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The Elephant in the Bible (Video and Discussion)

Discussion in 'Discipleship: Following Jesus' started by John Helpher, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    Hi all. The video is roughly 10 minutes. The title is based on a popular idiom illustrating the absurdity of ignoring something as large as an elephant in the same room as us.

    In this video, that elephant is the teachings of Jesus; what did he expect from his followers in practical, day-to-day life? What was the standard for what it means to be a follower? In particular, the message focuses on some of the more radical teachings of Jesus; forsaking material possessions, forsaking family, forsaking worldly jobs chasing after money, and even forsaking our own lives.

    It is very popular in the church world today to suggest that these radical, life-changing teachings are only meant for some special people. Some argue they were only for the people of that time. Some argue that they were only for the Jews. Some argue that they are only for people who are "called".

    But, are those arguments really consistent with what Jesus said about obedience to his teachings? Or, are these arguments blankets which are thrown over the elephant in the room as a means of hiding the truth from ourselves?

    I'm keen to hear what others think of these rather radical teachings.

     
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  2. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ pondering the things of God Supporter

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    Is seems necessary to point out that they who shared were of one mind until some kept for themselves what they professed to hand to the Holy Spirit. Discipleship seemed to stop there and those who joined there after were adherents to the gospels.
     
  3. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    Hi Cassia. Thanks for sharing. There is only one couple mentioned in the record who did this; Ananias and Sapphira. The record shows that they were supernaturally killed by God himself for their deception, indicating just how serious people should be taking these teachings. Yes, people were afraid after that, but there is no indication that discipleship stopped. The opposite would have been true; only those sincere enough to risk their lives would have continued; just as Jesus said it should be.

    I guess you're making a distinction between disciples and adherents to the gospels? I'm not quite sure what that means. Have I misunderstood you?
     
  4. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ pondering the things of God Supporter

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    I don’t think it stopped but it seemed to be a distinction made. It may be something about the mixing of metaphors is more the elephant in the room than a life or death matter. An interesting article. Christian Calling Means Mixing Metaphors

    11 And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things. 12 Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women,

    Tbh, I have never heard of that as being common teaching in any churches. The vid said it was mainstream. I thought it was just some offbeat churches.
     
  5. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    I found this article to be quite strange. It's actually saying the opposite of what the video is saying. The video's message is that Jesus meant what he said; leave your jobs, forsake your possessions, forsake your family, and start working for God full time by going into all the world to preach the gospel.

    The article you posted starts out by acknowledging all the many instances which support this, i.e. that this world is not our home, that we are strangers to this world. The context behind those ideals is supposed to be that we live by different standards. This world says that we must demand payment for our help whereas, in the Kingdom of Heaven we help one another just because we want to. In the same way a person working for cash would be a stranger in the Kingdom of Heaven, so too are we who work for love strangers in this worldly system.

    But then the article says this:
    "But is this all Christians are here on earth? Are we fighting sin, making disciples and, otherwise, marking time until Christ returns?

    Thinking of ourselves as merely pilgrims or exiles almost inevitably leads to such a narrow view of Christian life."

    It then goes on to talk about soldiers, executives, and patriots. The soldier thing is understandable imagery. Jesus himself did not reference soldiers (though he references servants in much the same way), but Paul did in a way which is consistent with what Jesus taught. He say no solider pays his own way (1 Corinthians 9:7). This is entirely consistent with Jesus saying, "you cannot serve God and money at the same time without cheating on one or the other. Don't let fears about food and clothing stop you from stepping out in faith. Seek first God's kingdom and God will provide the things you need" (Matthew 6:24-33).

    When we become soldiers in God's army, we don't need to continue working for the worldly system to get our daily bread; God, the general, will feed us.

    But the executive and patriot stuff isn't mentioned at all in either Jesus' teachings or Paul's. The author quotes OT scriptures for support and is essentially referring to wealth accumulation and political ambitions. He refers to Abraham's "commercial enterprise" and Daniel's political position in Babylon as evidence that this is supposedly what Christians should be doing now.

    This is why I mentioned in my opening statement that some people suggest Jesus' teachings aren't for all Christians. It's the same point this article is making; sure Jesus told some people to follow him full time, but for everyone else, God has no real plan. Chase after money. Follow political ambitions. Whatever.

    I just don't see that in Jesus' teachings. When he told his followers to forsake all they have, he didn't say it was just for some people. He said, "whosoever he be of you who does not forsake all he has cannot be my disciple". (Luke 14:33) That word, "whosoever" is the same whosoever which appears in John 3:16, and yet Christians do not say that some people don't need to believe in Jesus to get salvation. They say exactly what the text says, it is for whosoever does the thing required (i.e. believe in Jesus).

    Why is it different when referring to the whosoever in Luke 14:33?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  6. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ pondering the things of God Supporter

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    For the same reason that your not digging out an eye or arm. When Peter was told to feed His sheep it’s assumed that the feed was prepared. To live as one in the world but not of the world it seems you have chosen your particular side of the pendulum when the truth is without the extremes.
     
  7. Michael Collum

    Michael Collum Everything began with a voice, use yours Supporter

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    On the fifth day, God created the land animals, so that's when the elephant (that we find in the bible) would have appeared.

    Furthermore, in the days of the apostles the forsaken riches were laid at the feet of the apostles. Today, we don't have people worthy of laying the riches at the feet of, and teaching that giving directly to the poor is an acceptable option would put a number of pastors out of a job ...

    what other radical teachings are you referring to?
     
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  8. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    If you compare these two comments, aren't you defeating your own argument?

    I mean think about it. You're suggesting that if every Christian gave what they have to the poor, then there would be nothing left to pay the pastor. But, you're also suggesting there's no one worthy to receive the riches anyway, so...
     
  9. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    The feed is the teachings of Jesus. What else would it be? Why would Jesus tell Peter to give the sheep something other than his teachings? Yes, it's already prepared; that's what Jesus was doing for 3.5 years; teaching and demonstrating.

    Yeah, rejecting this world does take some extreme action. It's hard to unplug. I mean, Jesus said we need to be prepared to lay our lives down and then showed us by example what that looks like. Yeah, that's extreme. But the way you refer to extreme makes it sound like something bad.

    Christianity isn't extreme. It's warm, soothing, and comfortable. Is that what Jesus and his followers experienced?
     
  10. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    So many inconsistencies and misrepresentations in this video! Wow! It'd be an enormous task unraveling all of the poor thinking in it.

    I will note the following, however:

    Is the Christian today called to follow Christ after the manner of the Twelve? Obviously not. What transpired between Jesus and his very first disciples was unique - especially in light of what eleven of them would go on to do in establishing, building, leading and teaching the Early Church. No Christian since the time of the apostles has had the same kind of call upon them to do as the apostles did.

    In what way, then, do we follow after Christ? We see that Paul, Priscilla and Aquilla were tentmakers, working as such even though they were leading members of the Early Church. Paul, writing to Christian brethren, very explicitly stated that if one will not work neither should he eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) He also enjoined Christians:

    1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
    11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,
    12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.


    Paul here indicates that the Thessalonian believers were to be gainfully employed so that they would "behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." The Thessalonian believers were to "attend to their own business and work with their hands" so that they would "not be in any need" and have a good reputation among the lost.

    Clearly, Paul did not think following Jesus necessarily involved literally forsaking one's gainful employment, family and home. What of the homes in which the Early Church first met, for instance? How was this possible except some of the first Christians retained possession of their homes and then offered them for the use of fellow believers? If all of the early Christians thought following Christ meant to literally give up all they possessed, there'd have been no homes in the possession of any believers in which they could meet!

    How would believers in Acts have fed and clothed themselves when once all of their pooled resources were consumed? Someone would have had to go off and work to earn money to purchase more of what was needed! To hold to the notion that every Christian had to forego gainful employment in order to be a Christian would have quickly impoverished and starved the Early Church out of existence!

    And so, in Acts we read of Cornelius, "a devout man and one who feared God" who was employed as a Roman centurion and possessed a house (Acts 10); we read of the apostle Peter staying in the home of Simon, a Christian brother, who worked as a tanner (Acts 10); we read of Lydia, who worked as a seller of purple, and was "a woman who worshiped God," who invited Paul and Timothy to stay in her home (Acts 16); we read of Justus, also one who "worshiped God" - a Christian believer - and who possessed a house in which he lived and in which Paul stayed for a time (Acts 18); we read, too, of the Christian believer and evangelist, Phillip, father of four daughters, owner of a house in which Paul stayed for a while (Acts 21). And so on.

    The record of Acts in no way, then, bears out the notion that all Christian believers must forsake gainful employment and their possessions to be Christians. Quite the opposite, in fact.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
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  11. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Simul Justus et Peccator Supporter

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    Hello @John Helpher, here are two similar verses to consider about "forsaking ~all~", and what Jesus meant by that teaching (hopefully, we can see what He did not mean, as well).

    Luke 14
    26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

    Matthew 10
    37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

    The Matthew 10 "elephant" seems like he put on quite a bit of size and weight in Luke 14 ;) It seems to me that the Lord is employing a bit of hyperbole (in Luke 14:26) to make His point (though in this particular case, I think that both verses "qualify" each other, IOW, the meaning of each verse is best understood in light of the other :preach:

    One thing seems clear, He is not telling us that we need to "hate" and/or always choose to completely "forsake" our family members to be His disciples (which is good, because that would contradict much of what is said about our families in both the OT and the New, including by the Lord Himself).

    There is much more to consider (especially if we compare the church in its infancy to the NT church that the Epistles describe just a decade later), but I will stop here for now.

    God bless you!

    --David

    Luke 12
    33 Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out,
    an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

    34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.





     
  12. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    This is a curious reaction. It's like you're using one teaching from Jesus to cancel another. ~Cassia~ did the same thing with the pluck out your eye teaching. When it comes to money and materialism, suddenly all the wise people come out of the woodwork rendering reasons as to why Jesus didn't really mean what he said or how his teachings were only for some special people.

    But, I'm hoping to find sincere people who do think Jesus meant what he said.
     
  13. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Simul Justus et Peccator Supporter

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    Hello again John, I'm sorry if I was unclear (about the complimentary verses from Matt 10 and Lk 14). Please take note of what I said about them both in the bold type portion of my quote below.
    Luke 14:26 helps us understand how seriously we need to take what the Lord has to say in Matthew 10:37 about loving Him before and above all others, and in a similar manner, Matthew 10:37 tempers what He says to us in Luke 14:26, where He emphasizes His point by making a hyperbolic statement* (saying that we must "hate"* our family members if we want to be His disciples).

    Of course, we would not need Matthew 10:37 to know that the Lord is employing a hyperbole to make His point (in Luke 14:26), because the entirety of the NT is concerned with our choosing to "love" others, not "hate" them, as "hating" others is a sin.

    I hope that helps explain my meaning(?) Surely you cannot believe that the Lord has commanded us to "hate" our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives/husbands and children, on the one hand, while commanding us to "love" everyone else on the other :scratch:

    Thanks!

    --David

    Matthew 10
    37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

    Luke 14
    26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
     
  14. True Counterphobia

    True Counterphobia Slave to Christ Supporter

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    They used this phrase, "Forsake all" as if it was the pinnacle of what it means to be saved, but they kinda brushed over where this is found in the Bible. I would expect Jesus to have said this over and over, this exact phrase, but Jesus instead constantly reminds people it is a condition of the heart and no amount of deeds can save you (John 6:29). There were still people who held regular jobs who were Christians including Paul himself. The premise of the video is not bad, but it is lacking in explanatory power. "Commit you life to Christ" is what they are trying to say, but instead he is saying you have to do the impossible to be saved. No man can live up to the standard of what this person is talking about. What's really sad about all this is that he doesn't say anywhere in this video at all that many of the Apostles were martyrs for their faith. So the person is just looking to show that it's impossible to be a True Christian and nothing more than that.
     
  15. MMXX

    MMXX Jesus Loves You

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    I don't see why there's any kind of opposition to this. When you get hired by an employer, you forsake your life while on the clock. You do what your employer wants you to do. You can't do whatever you want when on the clock. People are perfectly willing to go along with this. Even people who don't need the job for income like retirees who work as Walmart greeters or security guards or whatever. Even volunteers give up their freedom to do whatever they want, to do the job that's been assigned to them.

    Joining the military takes it to an even further extreme where often one literally has to forsake their home and family go to whatever part of the world they're sent. And they know that they are expected to lay down their life for their country. Millions of people willingly sign up for this.

    So I don't get why this same concept would be a point of contention among Christians.

    Now being in the military can mean anything from being on the front lines overseas getting shot at, to being a stateside easy cushy job. Some military assignments are much easier than others. But they all require total surrender of personal freedom and you're no longer a civilian.
     
  16. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    I'm not clear on how working at a job amounts to "forsaking my life" for my employer. If I forsake something, I abandon it, I leave it entirely and permanently. I don't do this with my life when I'm working at a job. I fully intend, when my work day is done, to return to those things that constitute the rest of my life. I may call home to my wife while on a break at work, or drive home at lunch to turn off the lawn sprinkler. How, then, have I forsaken my life? At most, I could be said to have diverted from the other parts of it temporarily.

    Right. But this doesn't mean that I have abandoned the rest of my life, or that all power to choose is gone. My employer requires that I fulfill certain responsibilities as an employee, not forsake my life.

    One may not be able to do whatever one wants while fulfilling one's work responsibilities, but this doesn't mean one is utterly at the mercy of one's employer, or totally unable to do anything but one's job. Your boss couldn't, for example, force you to take on work you had not agreed beforehand to do, that was perhaps very dangerous, or disgusting, or for which you were completely unskilled. And if you wanted a ham sandwich for lunch rather than a salad, it would be your decision, not your employer's, to opt for the sandwich. I don't see, then, how your examples parallel the idea of "forsaking all" that the OP is espousing, or how they even fulfill the purpose for which you're offering them.

    I've challenged the notions of the OP because they are false in certain respects, which I addressed in my last post. Believers coming here to find guidance in living the Christian life - discipleship - may be led quite astray by the poor handling of Scripture and the resulting erroneous ideas about being Christ's disciple asserted by the video in the OP.
     
  17. MMXX

    MMXX Jesus Loves You

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    Well I hadn't had time to watch the video or read every post, because I'm at work lol. And I assumed this was a more conventional argument. Having watched the video, this is just one man's singular radical viewpoint. And I doubt he studied church history and the cultural norms and standards of the of time and place.

    Some actually do forsake all when they become overseas missionaries, but even then live ordinary lives to a degree. Really I think the only ones who really truely forsake all are monks who live in cloistered monistaries.

    To me to forsake all means, "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness". To in your heart put God ahead of everything else; home, family, posessions etc.

    Some object to having to give up anything to be a Christain. So that's where my analogy of giving up time and freedoms to work a job came in. I was looking at it from a realistic modern viewpoint of being a Christian.

    Now I'd personally be okay with leaving what I have to go live in some big Christian co-op community. And that's pretty much the way the Amish and the like do things already. I guess Elephant dude didn't take them into consideration.

    I'd like to hear whoever came up with this, lay out a blueprint of how this would be doable in a 21st century industrialized world.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
  18. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16 Supporter

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    Because, that's what it's all about, right? Living that ordinary life while making a grand show of religious piety? Think about what you're saying and just compare it to what Jesus actually said. Don't be fooled by all the convenient doctrines of various posters here. Just think about what Jesus said, and whether that makes sense to you.

    Jesus is the boss. He is the savior. His teachings aren't just for some some special people while everyone else is called to continue being part of the worldly system. MMXX, don't listen to these people who create convenient doctrines which excuse and dismiss Jesus' teachings as just a kind of ritual formality that some people may feel called to, while the rest of us live however we want to while claiming all the reward.

    That simply will not work. Think about it. If you were an employer, would you really be impressed with employees who claimed all the benefits yet stubbornly demanded that if the employer really cared for them, then they should not need to even show up for work?

    There is no blue print other than what Jesus told us to do. You can't guarantee a safe future through your own wisdom. You must put your faith in the teachings of Jesus. You just have to recognize that he really does know what is best for us, and step out in faith.

    Listen to him. There are many who will tell you that he didn't really mean what he said; that all you have to do is SAY the right things, so long as you continue to serve the worldly system. That will not help you. You must see past these various arguments which seek to dismiss real obedience.

    • No one can talk you in to obedience to Jesus' teachings. But, in the same way, no one could talk you out of it. You must decide for yourself. Think carefully. What does Jesus expect from you?
     
  19. MMXX

    MMXX Jesus Loves You

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    Apppearently you did not read what I wrote in my first post to this theard or even the second really, and just jumped to conclusions.

    When I said ordinary lives, I didn't mean hedonistic lives with no regard for obeying Jesus. The Christian missionaries I've known, including my sister, don't do that. They actually obey Jesus and abandon their homes and secular jobs to spread the gospel out of love for the Lord and others. But they still raise families and enjoy wholesom recreation etc.

    It's a forgone conclusion that Jesus led an ordinary life before He began His ministry. Remember when He went to His hometown to teach and prophesy? They basically said, "who does he think he is? He's just an ordinary carpenter like his father Joseph."

    Please don't be so eager to straighten out fellow Christains, that you don't even pay attention to what they're actually saying.

    There would need to be some kind of plan for millions of Christains to suddenly literally abandon homes and jobs to create a co-op type community. That's what the video is saying we should do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
  20. MMXX

    MMXX Jesus Loves You

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    So here's the question. How could 2 billion Christians across the globe, becoming homeless and unemployed, and all conglomerating in one spot, help spread the gospel better?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
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