OT: All those who reject Jesus are in for a hot time...
I've had people quote the Bible back to me, "Judge not lest ye be judged," [Matthew 7:1] or "Your prayers should be in private," [Matthew 6:5-6] as rebuttals for me sharing my faith with them or trying to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both of the verses above are from what we call The Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus was teaching a large group of people. The Pharisees were likely the target for both of these particular verses. Jesus frequently held up some of their practices as examples of what not to do when worshiping God. However it's a stretch to use this one passage in Matthew 6 to tell Christians, "You can never pray in public." I believe that Jesus was cautioning people instead to not pray 'over the top' - as the Pharisees were well known for going on and on with their prayers, loudly and with lots of flowery church language in an effort to demonstrate their righteousness. He (Jesus) had similar issues with the professional mourners while en route to Lazarus' tomb.
If you read the Bible and think about the events and the context in which Jesus was teaching, He was concerned that our righteousness was being measured by what was on the outside - not what was on the inside; which to me is different than Jesus just preaching a bunch of instructions that people two thousand years later could use as a list of do's and don'ts.
NT: Jesus is the way
Of course, if you've ever had discussions with friends or strangers about their eternal destiny, you've likely come across the sentiment that the Old Testament (OT) is too harsh and that the New Testament (NT) is all about God's Love - not about you having a frank discussion that might result in changed hearts and lives. Maybe we all need to wear little name tags that have OT, NT or No T on them so that everyone knows where everyone else stands...
I'm no Bible scholar. I don't think of myself as some kind of a Holy Roller. I don't stand on street corners shouting at cars as they drive by and I don't handle snakes [Mark 16:18] or other things that mainstream folks might categorize as extreme. That's between God and me. But make no mistake, the Bible is very clear that believers need to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes and sighing, or even getting offended anew that Christians must be so...so...pushy.
No T: Everyone's a winner!
I guess that means that it's okay for me to roll up on you and tell you about the furniture sale at that place that's been going out of business for the last three years - but not tell you about something that could bring you true joy? It's acceptable to spam you with invites to Tupperware parties and fantasy football leagues or corner you at work to donate to little Suzy's fund raiser for 5th grade graduation - but it's against the rules to forward an invite to a Christian music concert or church block party?
There's not some secret building where we all wear hooded robes and chant unintelligible words and sign our names in blood, swearing that we will do our best to aggravate anyone on the planet with our belief systems.
I'll agree that there are some OT folks out there who believe that the time for quiet chit-chat is past. To them it's obvious that the world is headed to Hell in a hand basket and IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP PEOPLE!! In modern terms, they are rocking it Old School - or more accurately Old Testament.
I've been reading Ezekiel lately and I have to tell you, I would not have wanted to be that guy. Ezekiel was an OT prophet starting around 593 BC and was selected by God to bring the bad news to Jerusalem, Judea, Egypt and just about everyone else in the neighborhood. But spare a thought for poor Ezekiel; here's what God told him in Ezekiel 33:7-9 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul."
In other words, if Ezekiel didn't give the people God's 411 - it was going to be on his head, or more accurately his soul.
This is about where the God is a big meany folks will be chiming in. Go ahead...I'll wait.
In my eleven or so years as a Christian, it seems like we're broken down into three categories:
- OT: Old Testament, fire and brimstone, turn before you burn communicators
- NT: New Testament, free gift of salvation, Jesus is the Way, He loves you communicators
- No T: No Testament, it doesn't matter how, or even if, you seek God - everyone gets to Heaven communicators
You can be OT or you can be NT as you feel God's leading; but No T walks a dangerous line which basically says, "I know more about God's plans that God does. If God is love I just know He wouldn't punish good people like that."
Even The Artist Once Again Known as Prince admits forever is a mighty long time.
But hey, I'm not here to judge you for being OT, NT, No T or none of the above. But as Christians, just don't hate us for doing what our Father has asked us to do. My personal prayer is that when I do talk to others about Jesus, share my personal testimony, or try and pass along what God has spoken to me through His Word, I'll be sensitive to others while I'm doing it. By the same token, I'm not going to say the OT folks are wrong in the way they represent - after all, if God has told them to do it at peril of their souls, I'm not going to get in the way of their obedience.
What do you think?