The Bible is full of truth that unpacking it often involves peeling away layers before we understand what God is really saying. We have tried to correctly interpret some of the passages that are commonly misinterpreted.
In the first week we looked at Matthew 6:25-33, on “Priorities and Selflessness”. The wrong context has been “God helps those who help themselves” this saying is quoted regularly but cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. What the Bible does say is found in Psalm 121:2 “my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” and Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” this means that God will help us when we seek first his kingdom.”
Week two, we delved into the letter of St Paul to the Philippians 4:13, on “Trust and Prosperity” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” this passage illustrates how God can help us overcome any challenge we have when we trust in Him.
In the third week we looked at another commonly misinterpreted passage on “Accountability and Judgment”. Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge and you will not be judge” this is not to be treated as a statement banning all forms of judgment but rather, it encourages rational judgments and corrections.
In the fourth week our reflection was on “Strength and weakness”, we looked at another common saying that is very often times misquoted and misinterpreted but not found in the Bible. “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. But the ideal interpretation of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 is that God will never give you more than He can handle. This is why all throughout 2 Corinthians, Paul makes a boast in his weakness and his need to rely on God for strength.
We shall conclude this series by taking a look at another very common misinterpreted passage in Luke 18:24-25. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a Camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Many people use this passage to make the wealthy feel guilty for their financial success. I guess that means we should all aim to be poor, right? But did you know that majority of Americans earn an annual salary that puts them in the 1% of the world’s wealth? According to that misinterpretation, nobody in America earning more than $34,000 a year will enter the kingdom of God.
This passage doesn’t condemn wealth at all. The reality is that Jesus is calling out a major stumbling block for anyone who thinks they can get to heaven by their own works or wealth. Jesus is letting us know that none of can get to heaven by our own efforts even if you have all the money or not. Money not shared but used selfishly is no money. Jesus encourages generosity and dependence on Him Jesus. This is the interpretation of Luke 18:24-25.
--Fr. Celestine Tyowua, Parochial Vicar
Father Roger Gustafson