MATTHEW 4:5-7 (NCV)
Then the devil led Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem and put him on a high place of the Temple. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, jump down, because it is written in the Scriptures:
‘He has put his angels in charge of you.
They will catch you in their hands
so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.’” (Psalm 91:11–12)
Jesus answered him, “It also says in the Scriptures, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’” (Deuteronomy 6:16)
When Satan tempted Jesus with a scripture, Jesus combated him with another scripture. This is the basic idea of dissonance: we do not believe in a God that contradicts Himself. We believe in a God of order and harmony.Definition
Dissonance: disagreement or incongruity; inconsistency.
I feel like a lot of our journey as Christians has to do with farming for dissonance in our thinking and then weeding it out. Let me explain:
I was exposed to many kinds of Christian doctrines growing up. One of them was the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel purports that with enough faith, you can get a lot of material prosperity (wealth, jobs…the whole gamut) and that it is God’s will for us to be extremely successful materially. However, as I read more and more scripture, the prosperity gospel was swiftly disproved by many things Jesus said:
- Matthew 19: 21-24, NCV
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. If you do this, you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he left sorrowfully, because he was rich. Then Jesus said to his followers, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
(Note briefly: I think this was a specific calling to the rich young man to sell his possessions, not a blanket doctrine. Remember the point of what Jesus was talking about: if you’re too busy serving wealth, you won’t have room in your heart to serve God)
- Luke 12:15, NCV
Then Jesus said to them, “Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. Life is not measured by how much one owns.”
- Matthew 8:20, CEV
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests. But the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.”
(So…Jesus was homeless)
- Luke 12:16-21, NCV
Then Jesus told this story: “There was a rich man who had some land, which grew a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What will I do? I have no place to keep all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and other goods. Then I can say to myself, “I have enough good things stored to last for many years. Rest, eat, drink, and enjoy life!”’ “But God said to him, ‘Foolish man! Tonight your life will be taken from you. So who will get those things you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be for those who store up things for themselves and are not rich toward God.”
- Matthew 6:19-21, NCV
“Don’t store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will be where your treasure is.
And so on and so fourth. So, now, when I hear, “Jesus wants you to be rich!” it just sounds dissonant to me.
To me, there is something dissonant about a man who constantly heralds the phrase, “wives should submit” but never gets to to the point in the chapter where the husband is encouraged to love his wife in a sacrificial and respectful way (See Ephesians 5:25-30 and 1 Peter 3:7). It is the same way that there is something dissonant about people who are “pro-life” but do not care for LIVING orphans (James 1:27). Honestly, we lose a lot of our credibility as Christians by not being holistic thinkers. We have to take ALL of scripture and pick it apart intelligently, not just pick and choose whatever suits us. This means that sometimes, the bible will hurt our feelings and challenge us and we will be better people for it.
Farming for dissonance is important because we are not supposed to be chopped up people with a bunch of views that don’t match up. Through and through, we should be consistent.
I think a lot of our spiritual dissonance is sustained by bandwagon fandom. I want to be careful when I say what I am about to say because I am not about to attack new Christians for not knowing scripture (that is to be expected so don’t take it like that). That said, I like approximately 2 songs by the Brazilian artist, Seu Jorge but I wouldn’t call myself a Seu Jorge fan because I don’t know that much about his greatest hits or about him in general. Therefore, I hesitate to click that “like” button on facebook.
Too often, in a hyped up Christian culture, people are content to know very little about Jesus/Christianity and consider that a valid enough reason to change their religious view on facebook to “Christian.” When I see Christians who for YEARS have remained at the same level of knowledge about the faith, I get a little sad. Jesus’ followers were constantly asking Him questions, sitting at His feet, listening to His stories/teachings and even listening closely enough to write it down and talk about it years later (hence the gospel books: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). A FOLLOWER is at the very least curious about who they’re following and what they’re subscribing to. I think new Christians that ask questions and check out what’s in the bible are better off than old Christians who don’t care to know more.
Dissonance is not just unfortunate but I would argue that it is dangerous to the Christian. Lies and false doctrines can slap you around so much and have you on top of a building, ready to jump off simply because you don’t know any better. That terrifies me (as it should) and I think it should terrify ALL Of US.
We’ve got to let go of this idea that living by the spirit means chaos or disorderliness or that it means just feeling good. We’ve got to learn to start studying God and seeking the truth about Him. PEOPLE WILL GIVE YOU FALSE DOCTRINE even from the pulpit. Don’t trust this post. Don’t trust the next post you read. Go figure it out for yourself and trust in GOD (of course we can’t get away from people; we just have to be better at sifting through the myriad of ideas that come at us and deciding what to follow).
If Jesus was not Jesus, Satan would have quoted Psalm 91, and Jesus would have JUMPED OFF A BUILDING but because Jesus had endeavored to be a good student of the word, he was able to cite Deuteronomy 6:16 right back.
My aim is to continue to break down my beliefs. Where there is a hole in my philosophy, I should be happy when it is exposed because that only makes me a better believer.
I’ve heard this quote is by C.S. Lewis but I haven’t been able to confirm it. Whoever said it, I think it is a good note to end on:
I want to know God, not my idea of God; I want to know my neighbor, not my idea of my neighbor; I want to know myself, not my idea of myself.
To glorious dissonance (which is then swiftly followed by harmony)!