“If you’re using the Bible to argue for oppression, exclusion, or violence, then you’ve misunderstood both the story and the storyteller.”
The main question we need to be asking is not, “Who is God sending to hell?” Instead, it is, “What did God do when He came to earth?” The most important question is not even, “Does Jesus hate sin?” but rather, “How would Jesus love this sinner?”
If we keep trying to make the Bible about the four verses we use to judge a certain person, or the five verses that guide our selective morality, then we will miss the main character of the story: the Lord Himself.
Rapture. Conservative. Trinity. Masturbation. Revival. These are just a few of the many words that are not found in the Bible. And if you disregard words that are articles, conjunctions, prepositions, and such, the most common word found in Scripture is Lord. It occurs 6,782 times between Genesis and Revelation.
The next Top 30 are:
GOD – 4293
MAN – 2747
ISRAEL – 2509
PEOPLE – 2271
KING – 2124
SON – 1980
MEN – 1860
HOUSE – 1840
DAY – 1759
CHILDREN – 1727
LAND – 1641
THINGS – 1438
HAND – 1419
EARTH – 1088
SONS – 1061
JERUSALEM – 956
CITY – 953
JESUS – 953
FATHER – 944
NAME – 934
HEART – 925
DAYS – 923
DAVID – 881
MOSES – 804
PLACE – 798
TIME – 787
JUDAH – 756
WORD – 737
EVIL – 657
Notice that in the top thirty words in the Bible, the first word with a purely negative connotation is Evil.
At number thirty.
Yes, some of the top twenty-nine were used as negative in different scenarios, but the point is that the Bible prioritizes words like good, heart, Father, children, Jesus, and people, above words like death, sword, enemies, and judgment—words that don’t even make it to the top fifty.
This is not about watering down the Scriptures, this is about prioritizing what the Scriptures prioritize. And I know this is a simplistic view of the complexity and intricacies of the Bible, but maybe simple is what we need. Like children learning to read, the more you see one word, the quicker it is to learn it and become fluent with it.
Sadly, we recognize the negative words more than the positive ones. They are highlighted above the rest. Our human brains, scientifically proven to become more attached to the negative than the positive, have been deceived to believe that the Bible story is more about immortality and war than about beauty and rest. But even when we isolate every single negative word in the Bible, if we are looking at Scripture through the lens of Jesus (which is the only legitimate way to look at it) then sin and death and hell and Satan will be filtered through the cross, the love, and the forgiveness of Christ.
The book that starts with God, prioritizes Adonai, and tells us what Yahweh likes and dislikes…reveals who I AM truly is.
And He is love.
The compartmentalization of the Bible has allowed us to pick and choose the verses we want to highlight, and often we highlight them out of context. Since it’s possible to go from chapter- whatever to verse-whatever, we forget that each word was written as a brushstroke in a masterpiece. Most of the Good Book was not written to be read piece by piece, but as the ultimate script leading us to the ultimate name: the Lord Himself. It’s the narrative that brings us to Christ; the story of God’s grace; a collection of poems and history, written by imperfect humans inspired by the Spirit of truth.
My young children are already starting to understand the main theme of the Bible: the Lord is the protagonist and He is amazing. (And this is based on the iPad version of the Bible for kids that we read together after watching Inside Out for the fiftieth hundred millionth time.)
The Lord’s name is everywhere. It’s found 6,782 times between Genesis and Revelation. And as Brian Zahnd says, “What the Bible does infallibly is point us to Jesus Christ.”
The oppression, the exclusion, and the violence planed in the stoning of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery… was biblical, but it was not Christ-like.
Jesus Christ is Lord.
Jesus is the Word of God.
Jesus is what God sounds like, what God looks like and what God is saying.
And whatever the Lord says, goes.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
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