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I just completed reading the classic Life of Christ by the late Bishop Fulton J Sheen.

The book is 658 pages and reading this was a succession of fits and starts I had to will myself through.

An honest look at the life of Christ is challenging because everything about Jesus is an enigma and a paradox. Even His words often sound like madness and shock the ears even to hear them.

MATTHEW 10:39 “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

Any serious embrace of Christ enters one into a web of apparent contradictions. How could it be otherwise? How could anyone accuse humans of inventing a religion in which the man literally achieves peace by waging war on himself?. How do I resolve that Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light then promises us persecution, scorn, ridicule and even potential torture, imprisonment and death?

Thus, if I were an outsider examining Jesus, I am perplexed. He doesn't fit any mold and He doesn't try to. It would be especially difficult to use the Scripture Alone approach in this endeavor because the Scripture seems to take us all over the place. One minute Jesus is raising the dead, the next He tells the dead to bury their dead. One minute He tells us that if we do not believe in Him, believe in the signs He gives, then He tells us that an evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign and won't be given one. One minute He says He is the I AM, equal to The Father, then He says there are things that He does not know that The Father does.

The same Jesus that Scripture says is God Himself, cries out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

Each time I might try to compare Him to a person esteemed great in man's eyes, I am confronted with a seemingly direct contradiction in the messaging of Jesus.

John Lennon famously summed up his gospel message by the assertion All you need is Love and the admonition that we must Give peace a chance. The messages seem reasonable enough. Who could disagree?

Jesus, as if to deliberately shake us, counters.

LUKE 14:26 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
MATTHEW 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

How could anyone help but be scandalized by the words of Jesus here? How could anyone help but be inspired by the words of Lennon?


Words inspire and Words deject. Words build up and Words tear down. Powerful worlds create heroes and echo through history. Careless and cruel words leave scars that often don't heal.

The negative side of the power of words is that they can be twisted in how they are spoken or written, by how they are heard or read and by how they are quoted and conveyed.

Jesus had much to say about the misuse of words.

MATTHEW 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”


MATTHEW 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”


The brilliance of worldly sloganeering is in the safety of the message. It is a message that inspires many and offends few. The best politicians, gurus, cult leaders and movement creators understood this and still do. Draw in broad lines, paint in safe colors and use warm and glowing words and bright symbols to describe cold and dark things and sickening realities.

The word gay is present in many classic Christmas songs like Deck the Halls. It means happy, joyous. It has long since been coopted to describe sex practices the Bible describes as an abomination.

As the years went by, tolerance and marriage equality were added to the words coopted to support this evil. Even the Rainbow, the sign of God's Covenant has been coopted to promote the very sin for which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Infanticide has been described with the non-threatening words choice and privacy and women's healthcare. There is certainly nothing non-threatening is dismembering a child.

This confused language is rotting our society and demolishing the moral underpinnings that a civilized society requires. The legitimate meanings of words and the sensible Biblical norms we embraced, were the guard rails that keep us from going off the cliff. If words now mean whatever people want them to mean, and right and wrong are no more than subjective, chaos is the natural result. It should surprise no one that chaos is what we now have.

Rights and values can only be held as sacred when they are defended as rightly held. They can only be rightly held when they are rightly defined. It is we who favor peace and love. It is the other side that opposes genuine peace and love through the misappropriation of language.

"All You need is love" ideology grows out of the moniker of the 60's that espoused uninhibited sexual gratification as "Free love". "All you need is love" has come to be conflated with All you need is gratification. Lust naturally spills over to Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Avarice.

We have created a society of narcissists that demand instant gratification, whether that gratification is emotional or physical or animal. What has been divorced from the defining meaning of love is the very things that makes it so precious. Duty, suffering, sacrifice, work and forgiveness.

In other words, Denial of self.

What is best for the needs of the person I love? has been replaced by what is best for the wants of me? When disordered desires replace ordered love, selfishness, hate, war, perversion and death are the inevitable results. People cease to become humans and become objects for selfish use.

With this in mind, let us take another look at that passage from Luke.

LUKE 14:26 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

A love oriented towards evil and sin is not a love at all. It is a disordered self-love. Anything that is truly loved is loved for the sake of He who is love itself- Almighty God. Anything that is loved for one's own sake, against the will of God is sin.

That is what this passage is saying. This gets a little lost in the translation from Koine Greek into english because the closest thing we have to the term being expressed is the word hate. The term actually means to love less. We are not to hate or own families according to our linguistic rendering but we are to love them less than God. This is to say that we cannot sin for them.

The clearest proof of this is in Mark's gospel.

MARK 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Could Jesus, in Luke 14, actually be contradicting Jesus in Mark 12? Simply put, Mark 12 is a rightly ordered love that reflects-and is secondary to- the love of God. Jesus is directly confronting a self-serving and indulgent love with a rightly ordered love. The desires of your neighbors, your family and yourself cannot come before God. He is the love that is all you need.

This is such a classic example of how paradox looks like contradiction and I have to admit I could understand the desire to throw one's hands up and walk away. Over here, Jesus is telling me to love myself but over there He says to deny myself and pick up a cross. How is torturing myself an act of self love? Again, Jesus is directly challenging what love is. Love is not a feeling, it is a decision. Love is not a euphoria that falls down on me effortlessly like snow. Love is a labor that wells up from inside of me with great difficulty, great pain and great cost.

Jesus is admonishing us that authentic Love is not merely experienced, it must be proven.

He would know.

The reason authentic love must be tested is because it must be chosen. It must be chosen because we spend our entire lives being offered what our feelings tell us we love and also what is authentic love.

Our tastes may tell us we want the the chips and ice cream and soda but authentic self-love would have us push them away and choose the fish and vegetables and water because we know it's better for us. Love makes us encourage rather than discourage. Love makes us give rather than take.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Spoken at many weddings but lived in few marriages. People accept the notion of

  • better or worse

  • sickness or in health

  • richer or poorer

until faced with the reality of worse and sickness and poorer. Marriages (like mine) usually end because someone believes they were entitled to happiness and were robbed of it and need to go elsewhere to find it.

We then run again into the warning that never is wrong:

MATTHEW 10:39 “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

In trying to find your happiness in your life by pursuing your own truth, you are actually guaranteeing your own misery, for eternity because of a lie.

Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life. (John 14:6). You will never know love until you know Him.

If this proves that the world's view of love is false, it also proves that the world's notion of peace is false. This utopian notion of peace Jesus also directly confronts. Scripture does as well.

Ecclesiastes 3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

If I live to be 100, I will never forget my 37th birthday. I took a day off work and spent it with my wife. We went to the park and to the beach. That night, I had birthday cake and dinner with her and my 3 kids. The oldest one- Melissa- had just started her freshman year in high school and hit me with a question from her class.

Is there ever a time when war is justified?

Many of her classmates said there was not.

I told her emphatically that there was a time for war, as horrible as that thought may be.

She asked for an example. My own words ring through my head even now. They echo through my brain and give me chills.

If we are attacked! We have a God-given right to defend ourselves.

~ About 9 PM. September 10th, 2001

12 hours later I am on the phone with my wife who was working at a New Jersey hospital when she gave me the news that there was an explosion at the World Trade Center.

As I recall that morning, the weather was breathtakingly beautiful. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Peace seemed to be the order of the day. No one knew we were at war.

But we were.

At 8:46 AM, that illusion of peace was shattered as American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the north tower of New York's World Trade Center.

I say illusion because the notion of peace in our world has always been an illusion ever since the fall. That is, peace- in how the world defines it and how the world believes we can achieve it. You see, that is the rub. The very people who talk about peace are the fierce advocates for the exact agenda that makes it impossible. He who pleaded all we are saying is give peace a chance is the very same person who wrote:

Imagine there's no heaven It's easy if you try No hell below us Above us, only sky

Imagine all the people Livin' for today


Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion, too

Imagine all the people Livin' life in peace


You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people Sharing all the world


You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will live as one

Delusion is not a strategy for peace. That's why Jesus didn't traffic in it. There is a heaven above us and He taught us to seek it. There is a hell below us and He taught us to fear it. It is madness to imagine that the best way to avoid the wrath of the evil one is to imagine it away.

As for those living for today. He had something to say about that as well.

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I tell you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish[f] him, and put him with the unfaithful.

Yes, Lennon was a dreamer and- true enough- he was not the only one but it's not hard to see through the one-world ideology of the atheistic communism he espoused and it's disastrous consequences. Sadly, we can see more and more people- in high and low places- moving the world in this direction, a direction that will end in poverty, slavery and judgement- all under the auspices of a so-called peace. Surrender is not peace. Appeasement is not peace. Slavery is not peace. In fact, the absence of war- when justice cries out for war- is a moral outrage and it will not end in peace. Violence against the innocent is a grave sin but a lack of violence to protect the innocent can also be a grave sin if there are no alternatives.

John Kennedy, in his inaugural address observed:

He would rise to power by riding the back of the tiger, will one day find himself inside.

Lennon in his madness, continues that if we have no possessions there will be no hunger.

We do not have hunger because we have possessions. We have hunger because we have injustice. We have injustice because the elites don't want to imagine themselves having no possessions, they want you to imagine no possessions- for yourself.

Most of us do not have the money to live in Central Park with a maid but here we our being lectured by those who do, to give up our possessions for the supposed advantage of the poor and hungry. Hmmmm...this message sounds eerily similar to the words of an infamous thief and liar.

John 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz′arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Laz′arus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.

Was Jesus against peace? Far from it. Jesus was against imagining a utopian world built by men that falsely promised peace at the cost of justice. This is the peace this evil world promises. Peace from the inconvenience of a crying hungry child by simply killing that child in the womb. Peace from a conscience convicted by truth by silencing the town crier. Peace from violence and murder of church goers by refusing to air the stories and show the pictures. Peace from child trafficking by an appalling conspiracy of silence. Peace from corruption, treason and stolen elections by a complicit media and judiciary. Peace from genocide by looking the other way.

Jesus came to bring a sword against this peace- the sword of truth.

This is the terrifying and sobering truth we see in Matthew's gospel. Let's see that again:

MATTHEW 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy

of me.

The peace Christ offers is quite different from that of the world and He says so.


John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.


The genuine peace of Christ is different in 2 respects;

  1. It is given by God. You cannot acquire it from the world.

  2. It is not acquired by the absence of conflict but is present even in the conflict.

This is the peace that defies understanding (Philippians 4:6). The world cannot take it away because it isn't of earthly origin.

The peace of humans sounds logical. After all, it seems reasonable that if a bunch of people decide not to butcher, rape and pillage each other, that they will all see the mutual benefit of that. However, this conclusion is based on when very fatal assumption;

Imagine there's no heaven It's easy if you try No hell below us Above us, only sky

The problem is that there is a heaven and a God who dwells there. In denying it, we deny ourselves the Grace we need to think right and do right. There is a hell below us and a Devil who lives there. Denying this gives us no defense against the one who would turn us into beasts.

So, beasts we become. Or, we become victims of the beasts because we thought we could remain neutral. The illusion is shattered. Both sides are at war. Only 1 side understands it. That was the lesson of September 11th. That is the lesson of the gospels.

It is actually the only real war there is. All the other wars- even the world wars- are this war in miniature. We ourselves are the battle field and we lose by trying to win and we win by trying to lose. To put it more directly, Jesus knows everything about us. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses our strongest defenses and our vulnerabilities. The devil understands them too. The one who doesn't understand us is ourselves. We spend our entire lives drawn this way and that way by dreams and imaginings and shiny objects. Our flesh and our emotions war against our Soul and our intellect. The first 2 are most influenced by the Devil to overcome the last 2 and the last 2 are inspired by God and aided by Grace to overcome the first 2.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that this battle is not needed for salvation. These folks insist that what Christ did makes our efforts unnecessary, They could not be more wrong. What Jesus did makes our good efforts possible. It gave them value and made them salvific. It can ultimately make them victorious.

This is only possible if we refocus on the reality that

  • He is the way- that is the path.

  • He is the truth- that is the light to guide our steps on the path.

  • He is the life- that is the destination.

He is the peace, if we will just give Him a chance. He is the love that is all we need.


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