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Being a jerk: “It’s just who I am.”

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Many a novelty T-shirt warns you they’re coming. “I speak fluent sarcasm,” or “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best,” or “Back up till I’ve had my Risperdal coffee,” or “I can go from zero to [awful] in 60 seconds.” There, that counts as their necessary legal notification that they’re gonna be a jerk. That, and pitching a hissy fit when somebody asks ’em to put on a face mask. Yeah, those folks are just a ray of sunshine whenever their faces screw up… Sorry, I’m also kinda fluent in sarcasm. But I’ll stop now. I used to be a jerk myself. It came out as sarcasm, which is how I got away with it for so long in Christian circles: It amused and entertained people. I still have pastor friends who enjoy the fact I can say the things they can’t. Not because I’m being a dick and they have to be better than that; plenty of pastors are dicks, and Christ Jesus expects better of both them and me. No; it’s because when the things I say bug people, it’s n

Zeal’s a work of the flesh.

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Frequently the excuse Christians make for being jerks is… they’re just so dedicated to God. He comes first. Orthodox truth and godly standards and biblical principles come first. Your feelings, your hangups, your boundaries, your convictions, most definitely do not— nothing comes before God. They’re never gonna compromise that. It’d be idolatry. So while they’re defending God and his favorite things (which coincidentally happen to be their favorite things, ’cause projection they’re so tight with God), if they happen to set aside kindness, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, grace, love, or any other of the Spirit’s fruit … well, that’s just gonna be a casualty of the culture war. Fruit’s important and all that, but orthodoxy? Principles? Standards? Absolute truths? We can’t compromise those things; the whole universe will fall to pieces if we do. But we can totally compromise fruit, ’cause on God’s cosmic totem pole fruit’s probably not that important. Which only goe

“But Jesus was a jerk sometimes.”

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Probably the Christian jerk’s favorite excuse for their awful behavior is Jesus himself: He’s a bit of a jerk sometimes, they’ll argue. Therefore sometimes (although it’s way more often than sometimes) it’s all right if they get a little bit jerkish. Since when is Jesus ever a jerk? Well, they got proof texts. Let me preemptively say they really don’t. They’ve got Jesus stories where yes, he can be accused of rude, harsh, thoughtless, dickish behavior. But this interpretation is entirely based on the presumption Jesus had a bad attitude: People pissed him off, so he was clapping back at them. Despite having God’s very nature, he decided to act entirely unlike himself, and be fruitless instead of fruity. Why do they presume Jesus had a bad attitude? ’Cause they have a bad attitude. ’Cause they’re projecting their own bad attitudes upon Jesus. The gospels don’t remind us of his motives and character in every single story; the authors figured we oughta know Jesus already

Christian jerks.

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SHE. “Ugh, religious people are the worst .” ME. “Hey. I’m a religious person. How am I ‘the worst’?” SHE. “Oh, you’re not that religious.” ME. “I beg to differ. I’m extremely religious. If I weren’t, I’d be a massive jerk. Now explain how I’m ‘the worst’.” You can tell my pagan friend recently had a bad experience with a Christian, and wanted to vent. Wanted to complain how religious Christians are bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental. I could start ranting about her own religious prejudices here—as many of my fellow Christians immediately would. But not today. ’Cause there’s good reason for this negative stereotype she claims for all Christians. You’ve seen it too: The Christian jerk. The person who claims they follow Jesus, but are just awful to other people. Sometimes to pagans and fellow Christians alike; sometimes just to pagans. With all the bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and judgmentalism my friend objects to… and thinks all of us are like. I wanted t

If you think it’s okay to dismiss the Law, you clearly don’t know Jesus.

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1 John 3.4-6. Here we get to the parts of 1 John which bug Christians. 1 John 3.4-6 KWL 4 Everyone who commits sin also violates the Law. Sin’s against the Law. 5 You knew Jesus was revealed so he could take away our sins, and there’s no sin in him. 6 Everyone who remains in Jesus doesn’t sin: Everyone who sins has neither seen him, nor knows him. “Violates the Law” is my translation of τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ / tin anomían piheí , literally “does the anti-Law.” ( KJV has “transgresseth… the law”; NIV “breaks the law.”) I capitalize Law because John wasn’t writing about Roman law; plenty of Roman laws encouraged if not committed sin. John meant the Law of Moses, the Hebrew Law, the תּוֹרָה / Toráh . The stuff God commanded the Hebrews at Sinai and thereafter. It’s the formal part of the relationship between the L ORD and Israel, the backbone of Hebrew culture, the foundation of the Old Testament, the basis of the commands and interpretations Jesus himself presen

Making us Christians like God.

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1 John 3.2-3. Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul, Silas, and Timothy wrote that we’re gonna get raptured at Jesus’s second coming: Dead Christians will be resurrected, living Christians will be transformed into our resurrected selves, and all of us will meet Jesus in the air. 1Th 4.15-18 These sinful sacks of meat we currently carry around: They get swapped for something eternal, to match the eternal life God always meant for us to have. They no longer have the same self-preservation instincts we currently do, ’cause they last forever… and therefore these instincts won’t go overboard and become self-centered and depraved. Our first impulse won’t be to do the selfish, sinful thing; it’ll be to do as Jesus does. Christians call this “the new nature.” Human nature is considered selfish and fallible, but this’ll become the new human nature: Selfless and Spirit-led. Plus we can finally see Jesus as he really is. Without freaking out, Mk 9.2-8 passing out, Rv 1.17 or going b

Society doesn’t know what to make of Christ-followers.

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1 John 3.1. John didn’t write any of his books and letters with chapters and verses. Medieval Christians did it: They gave every line in the bible an address, so we could more easily find it. It’s great for that. But every so often, it splits a sentence, paragraph, or train of thought, right where it ought not. As a result Christians tend to lose the train of thought, if not miss it altogether. Don’t love society, which is passing away. 1Jn 2.15-17 Don’t be misled by antichrists; you know better. 1Jn 2.18-23 Hold on to what you learned in the beginning. 1Jn 2.24-29 After all, society doesn’t understand us, or God, anyway. 1Jn 3.1 Meanwhile clean yourselves up. Jesus is coming! 1Jn 3.2-3 And stop sinning, wouldya? 1Jn 3.4-6 And so on. But today’s bit is gonna zero in on that bit about society not understanding us Christians. The word I translate “society” is κόσμος / kósmos , and I already explained why I’m interpreting it that way: The KJV renders it “world,” but

Needing not that any man teach you.

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1 John 2.26-29. Ever heard of a “life verse”? It’s an idea y’find in some Evangelical circles; it means there’s a bible verse which isn’t just a Christian’s favorite verse, but one they kinda consider their personal mission statement. They base their life on it. Heck, a number of these “life verses” are all found in the very same chapter of 1 Thessalonians : “Always rejoice” 1Th 5.16 for people who are big on joy. “Pray without ceasing” 1Th 5.17 for people who are big on prayer. “Give thanks for everything” 1Th 5.18 for those who definitely do. “Don’t quench the Spirit” 1Th 5.19 for those who love to listen to the Spirit. “Don’t dismiss prophecy” 1Th 5.20 for prophecy (or prophecy scholar ) fans. “Test everything” 1Th 5.21 for big skeptics. “Abstain from every form of evil” 1Th 5.22 for big legalists. Anyway. I once worked with this woman whom I’m gonna call Eustacia. Her “life verse” was clearly this one: 1 John 2.27 KJV But the anointing which ye hav

We can’t have the Father without the Son.

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1 John 2.20-25. In my article about antichrists, I pointed out not every antichrist is a radical atheist. Plenty of people totally believe in God… yet deny Jesus is Christ, or Lord, or in any way like Christians describe him, or that he’s even real. Jews fr’instance. And let me preface this with a warning about antisemitism. ’Cause there’s still a ton of racism out there. Racists want to hassle and exclude anybody they consider different, and they don’t care if there’s no reason for it, or if their “reasons” are stupid or nonsense. They wanna hassle Jews, and any excuse will do for them. They will, and historically have, used “antichrists” as an excuse. It is not an excuse, not a valid reason. The racists are simply being evil. In John’s definition of antichrist, anybody who actively rejects Christ Jesus is an antichrist. Plain and simple. So if you worship Y HWH , Abraham’s God, same as Christians, yet reject Jesus the Nazarene as Christ the Lord, you’d be an antichris