I once read a story about Jesus.
As Jesus was walking through a town in Galilee he came across a jail. Even though the Lord knew what the prisoners were guilty of, He asked the apostles why these men were jailed.
“They have committed the greatest of sins, my Lord,” answered one of them.
“What have these men done? Have they stolen? Have they over taxed or beaten you? Have they torn down the walls of a temple? All of these are sins to be forgiven. Who are you to judge these men?”
One of the apostles, Simon-Peter said, “Lord, these are sinners against children. For these men were jailed for torturing children and infants. They await death while in these walls.”
Jesus said, “It has been written and so shall be fulfilled, those who harm the Lord’s children harm the Lord. These men are no longer loved by the Lord and cannot be saved. They will long wander the lonely hills of darkness. Only will they know my name in death.”
Did I fool you? I bet I fooled some of you.
If I didn’t, and you’re scratching your head at the reaction Jesus had to this situation, you have every right to be doing so.
This isn’t a Bible story. It actually never happened and I made it up for a group of my students as we study “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.
If you haven’t read the book, the protagonist Montag is a “fireman” only in this future American society, books are outlawed and these firemen burn any that are found.
The society is dumbed down and only finds entertainment in watching wall sized, interactive televisions, and one of the characters says this includes Jesus as “one of the ‘family’ now. I often wonder if God recognizes his own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s regular peppermint stick now, all sugar crystal and saccharine – when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that ever worshiper absolutely needs.”
My students were shocked. How could these people be so stupid! We talked about this society that believes everything that is presented to them via the Internet to be true.
It was then the ideas struck me. Would my sophomores do the same? Earlier in the year we played a game that I loved playing with my FUMC Sunday Schoolers in which I play a song describing a person in the Bible and they have to guess which person matches the song lyrics.
After doing this same activity with high school students I soon realized that not only did they not know the people of the Bible, they didn’t know the Old Testament from the New Testament.
Armed with this knowledge, I created my fake “Bible story” about Jesus.
I tried to stay true to the Biblical lingo as borrowed from other stories to make mine more realistic. `
I worked hard to hide my grin when I handed out the “quiz” in which students were to analyze the story. No one asked a single question.
After revealing myself, we had great discussions about the importance of asking questions.
We’ve got to ask. We can’t just trust what we see on the Internet. We even have to question those in the pulpit.
So, here’s to the sophomores. Here’s to asking more questions. Here’s to reading your Bible. And here’s to that Bible story being fake, because how great a God do we have the offers forgiveness for all sins.
Courtney Warren is a contributing writer with The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.