taking the words of Jesus seriously

If there is anything Christians should never need a reminder of, it is how much God hates murder – and how close it is to each one of us.

We imagine that there is a grea

t difference between our thoughts and our actions, but God, who sees our hearts as well as our hands, sees little, if any, distinction. We prefer to believe that our coldness, hostility, even our murderous thoughts are somehow separate and distinct from who we are – in our own eyes, but especially in God’s eyes.

But Jesus tells us directly that this is a mere technicality – an artificial human distinction between, for example, the thought and act of murder.

I belong to a denomination that holds aloft the notion that what matters is “a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ”. Every so often I see an actual list of theological propositions that we are to check-off and adhere to.

We are reminded on a regular basis that we are “saved by faith not by works”.

I am not at all convinced that God makes the distinction.

In fact the scriptures (and our practical, everyday lives) say just the opposite.

James 2:14 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

James 2:18 – Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:26 – As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Matthew 7:20 – Thus, by their works you will know them.

In fact the pastor of our church once made a point by emphasizing that the saying ‘knowledge is power’ is inadequate – it should be ‘knowledge applied is power’.

Same with faith.

Faith as a theological abstraction is worse than useless (as James2:14 & 26 put it), but faith applied can change the world (Matthew 17:20).

But our hearts and intellects deceive us. We imagine at the same time that our thoughts of murder will not condemn us at the same time that our grand thoughts about our faith will save us.

Also by Morf: If I Have Cheated Anyone — True Revival and Conversion

But again, I am not at all convinced that God sees a distinction here. We confuse and deceive ourselves, but God, who created us and knows our hearts also knows that our hearts and hands are seamlessly connected.

Here’s one example; some ‘pro-life’ people like to say (or shout) that 21, 000 abortions are performed every week in the USA.

I am not at all convinced this is accurate, and it is certainly not consistent, but for the sake of argument (one reason I don’t believe it is the pure mathematical absurdity of the number. In just a few years this number would equal every female on the planet) let’s assume it is true.

This would mean 3, 000 abortions every day.

That means 3, 000 young women (the vast majority of abortions are performed on women under 25) each one guilty, ashamed and, statistically at least, abandoned by the man who got them into this situation – and forced them into this decision.

3, 000 families in upheaval, relationships in distress and individuals haunted forever with regret and pain.

I may be naïve, but it seems to me that a real ‘pro-life’ position would be to work to lower, if not almost eliminate all of this trauma and pain.

An obvious way to do this would be to ensure that girls and young women have a full range of education and career options. A young woman with realistic focused goals is far more likely to make good choices.

But instead, I see ‘pro-life’ people in my community parading posters of bloody fetuses while yelling slogans.

Does anyone really believe that battering any of us with judgmental slogans, mind-numbing statistics or photographs of a bloody fetus helps assuage anyone’s guilt or shame?

These people call themselves ‘pro-life’ but they glory in the blood and murder they decry.

They are just like the hypocrites Jesus condemned for honoring the prophets – that their fathers had killed (Luke 11:47-48). Jesus knew that, behind all their self-congratulatory righteousness, their core belief was that the only safe prophet was a dead one.

As I am writing this, a scandal has erupted around a ‘pro-life’ politician whose wife had two abortions while his girlfriend had one. In summary, this ‘pro-life’ Republican politician is directly responsible for three abortions.

The level of hypocrisy, cowardice and deception is deafening. This is the kind of person who opposes abortion except in the case of rape, incest, life of the mother or the career of the ‘pro-life’ politician.

Several of the commanding officers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have observed that we cannot ‘kill our way out’. These officers, schooled in the strategies and necessities of killing seem to know better than many ‘pro-life’ politicians that life and death are not abstractions.

Life is indeed sacred; the life of the mind, the heart, the body and the community. The giver of life entrusts us with a fragile gift we dare not squander.

Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

About The Author


Faith is not a formula. And I wouldn't even use the word 'relationship' - and probably not the metaphor of 'a journey'. The older I get, the more it seems that faith is a process - a determined focus on listening to the eternal, sifting out the noise and distractions and becoming closer with each breath and each word, to the fullness - and emptiness - of the pulse, hand and purpose of our Creator, which, ultimately brings us where we belong. I'm a teacher and writer, which really means that I am a listener and I share what I see and hear.

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