Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word
of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life
and in death” (
The Theological Declaration of Barmen, Germany, 1934).

A catalog I have from www.christianbook.com features an alphabet soup of translations of the Bible. There are also niche marketed books, that pair a particular translation with notes from a certain perspective, be it oldline, evangelical or Pentecostal. (The latter has a rather unfortunate title for these days: Fire Bible.) There are Bibles for women, men, teens, college students, and children, with multiple examples in each category.

But whoever the target reader, no matter the translation, all these Bibles point to the one Word of God, who is Jesus Christ. And in all of them, Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). He also always says: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Maybe the exact words differ translation to translation, but the sense is always the same.

Similarly, Paul always reminds his readers: “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:16-21).

I’m glad Pastor Terry Jones has cancelled his plan to burn Qurans tomorrow. But if he had simply heeded the words of the One he claims to worship and preach and the message of the Scripture he says he honors, neither he nor his congregation would have even contemplated the heinous act of burning the scriptures of another faith. Instead, he would have asked what Jesus would do, and he would have acted accordingly.

The Word of God, Jesus Christ, attested in the Bible, calls us to love, to seek our neighbors’ good, to refrain from revenge, and to live humbly as the people of God. There is no place in the life of a Christian for arrogance or hatred, no room for grandstanding and PR stunts, no message of violence from God, but rather this clear command: “Love God, love your neighbor.”

If all those who name the name of Christ listened to and obeyed him and lived as he did, we would have a better world. 

© 2010 Tom Cheatham

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