We read and hear a lot about “love” these days. It is especially popular with those who claim to be following the teachings of Jesus. We often see the messages that “Jesus is love”. Yet, that isn’t really what Jesus taught, is it? It seems to me that we live in a time that might be called “The Age of Compromised Messages”. Whether we’re looking at the teachings of Jesus, Muhammad or Buddha, it seems the most commonly encountered versions of their messages are not what the prophet, teacher or savior actually had to say.
There is nowhere in the records of his teachings that it is stated that Jesus claimed that “I am love”. I did find at least one webpage in which someone claiming to channel Jesus says he spoke through her saying that “I am love…”. But that isn’t what the Jesus teaching his gospels in Israel 2,000 years ago had to say. Then he said, as recorded in the Book of John, chapter 14, verse 6, KJV: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life…”. When it came to personally identifying himself with a particular trait or value, it wasn’t love, it was truth. This is further born out by what Jesus had to say in John 8:31-32: “Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in my word then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
Realizing Jesus primary concern was truth, not love nor peace (which may ultimately be brought about by truth), also explains his saying which many are unaware of or choose to conveniently ignore. Matthew 10:34 NIV: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
At first read this can tend to seem harsh, cruel. However, throughout history a sword has been used to represent, variously; purification, discrimination of thought, transition, justness/justice. All of these things have to do with truth. In the book of Ephesians (6:17) the prophet Paul writes of “…the sword of spirit, which is the word of God.” And while there is some contention about the authorship of the Book of Isaiah, in Isaiah 49:12 it states: “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword…” So we can see that the sword, over time, has been used to symbolize truth, sharpness (or discrimination) of thought and word.
What do we know about swords? Good ones are strong, hard and sharp. Not warm and fuzzy. Where, along the line, did the teachings of Jesus get so widely characterized as primarily warm and fuzzy? Of course Jesus did speak quite clearly about the importance of love and forgiveness. It’s clear Jesus was not an “off-with-their-heads” type such as the The Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Yet Jesus was most definitely not promoting “warm and fuzzy”, “anything goes”, “it’s all good” as the foundations for a lifestyle.
These days the truth can seem to be quite elusive. Especially in politics, organized religion, and the financial world. Yet truth is absolutely essential for human well-being. Without it we are at odds with the world around us and often with ourselves. Like square pegs in round holes. The truth is to the mind as nutritious, organic, non-toxic food is to the body. However, the truth may not always be what we want. Just as a diet of our favorite junk food is ultimately not going to be good for our overall well-being, the lies (intellectual junk food) we may cherish are not healthful for our intellectual/spiritual/overall well-being.