Putting Words in Jesus’ Mouth

A Word of Caution for an Election Year

This being an election year, many of us are being treated to the soap boxes, certainty, and sanctimony of those who truly believe they speak for Jesus on subjects He never specifically addresses. What’s more, these subjects are often put forth as His primary teachings. Maybe I don’t understand what “primary” means. To me, primary would include things He actually said. This of course doesn’t mean His teachings can’t be applied to certain policy issues. But, they can be applied differently by thoughtful Christians–and we should distinguish our applications from the teachings themselves.

Take, for instance, the issue of illegal immigration in the way our society actually faces it. Jesus never addresses it directly. Yet, to hear some speak, you’d think every Red Letter in our Bible dealt directly with it. A faithful Christian can believe in a virtually completely open border and a virtually closed border and believe so based on the principles of loving your neighbor and helping the poor and oppressed. I’ll save the “how” for another post. However…

We mustn’t put words in His mouth.

Why not simply say, “Based on my best understanding of the teachings of Jesus, I believe we should…” rather than declaring our own possession of the heart of Jesus and/or doing so in a way completely void of the Fruit of the Spirit. When we discuss matters of the Kingdom without humility and/or the Fruit of the Spirit, we probably aren’t discussing God’s Kingdom–at least not in a Kingdom way.

Let’s keep in mind that Jesus seems relatively disinterested in politics and government while He’s on earth. Let’s remember He said His Kingdom was not of this world.

Really…let’s.

Jesus taught, primarily, loving God with everything, our neighbor as ourselves, serving others, calling sinners to repentance, and seeking and saving what is lost. Caesar is not Jesus’ chief concern. Not even close. He is far more concerned with matters of the soul than the flesh—without divorcing the two. How about us?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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  1. Excellent, Tim. Illegal immigration is a perfect subject for this plea. Christians can feel strongly either way with some biblical basis for their opinion. I like Jesus’ instruction to “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” There’s a constant tension between the two.
    Keep up the good work.