I love that the Bible is for everyone. It’s not chained to the pulpit. It’s not interpreted by only the elect few. One of great translator William Tyndale’s dreams was that the plow-boy could know more scripture than the priest.
Despite that, we may have forgotten an important premise: equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results. In other words, just because we all can read and study scripture doesn’t mean that we all do.
Here’s how this plays out: whenever there’s a public issue that somehow involves Christianity, everybody has an opinion. The talking heads on TV interview scholars and people off the street and everybody’s opinion gets equal screen time. The opinion of the guy who couldn’t name the four gospels is counted as equal to the Christian who has dedicated herself to studying the scriptures honestly and deeply. That’s insane.
Do you see the problem? Everybody claims to be an expert on Jesus, but not everything said about Jesus is true. Do you know how Jesus said you could tell who someone was that really knew his stuff about him? He said that, “the student who is fully trained will be like the teacher” (Luke 6:40). The angry, arrogant, combative guy who claims to be speaking for Jesus probably doesn’t know as much about Jesus as he claims.
On the flip side, there are others who always want to tell you what Jesus thinks about things. No matter what the question is, they have the same answer: don’t judge and Jesus loves you. Are those two teachings of Jesus legit? Absolutely and undeniably. I can’t imagine the teaching of Jesus without these thoughts. But the range of Jesus’ teaching is far richer and deeper than those two concepts alone.
Can I encourage you to spend some time with Jesus. Read the scriptures and see what made him cry. See what prompted him to anger—and watch how he handled his anger. Notice what brought him joy, and see the subtle nuance of his handling of delicate situations with hurting people.
I can promise you this: the real Jesus is better than the 30-second version you get from the experts on TV.