Nothing grates my cheese quite like someone questioning my motives. You don’t like having your motive questioned either, and I know why. (See what I did there? I assumed to know your motive for not liking your motives questioned.)
It’s part of our human nature to question people’s motives, and we primarily do it because our own motives are not always pure. It’s especially easy to question the motives of people and groups we dislike or don’t trust.
- It doesn’t matter what a Democrat does—no matter how good it might be—a Republican is standing off to the side questioning the Democrat’s true motive.
- It doesn’t matter what a Republican does—no matter how good it might be—a Democrat is standing off to the side questioning the Republican’s true motive.
(And someone is off to the side right now questioning why I picked on a Republican first.)
We just assume the other person’s motives are suspect. Of course, he’s wrong!
C. S. Lewis even coined a phrase for this: bulverism. Bulverism is assuming the other person is wrong, and we can assume we know their motives for what they do and why they’re wrong.
“I call it ‘Bulverism’. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than a third —’Oh you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, and the world will be at your feet.” (C.S. Lewis, God at the Dock, (Eerdmans, 2014, p. 300).
We get a lot of things wrong we just “know” are right. And our assumptions keep us from ever digging deeper to see if we’re right or not. Don’t confuse me with the facts.
The world does this all the time with Jesus. Culture and other religions just assume the church has it wrong. They assume Christians have read too much into the Gospels … or not enough. But not to worry! They’re here to correct our fallacy and tell us who Jesus is and why He came to earth.
- Jesus was a mortal man sent by God as a prophet . (This is taught in Islam.)
- Jesus was a Jewish apocalyptic who believed the world as he knew it was going to come to a screeching halt and God would overthrow the forces of evil in a cosmic act of judgment.
- Jesus was a prophet of social change.
- Jesus was a healer, a man of great wisdom and courage who taught a message of inclusiveness, tolerance, and liberation.
People assume to know Jesus’ motive, His reason for coming the earth. But these false assumptions are based on what we want Jesus to be, the kind of Messiah, Savior, or religious leader we want.
What matters is what Jesus said about why He came.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'” (Luke 5:31-32).
Left on our own, we’re in a mess. If you turn over a new leaf right now and never do a single bad thing again—not even something slightly annoying—it wouldn’t make up for the sin and failure of the past.
- If a building contractor installs a window incorrectly but proceeds to install all the others properly, the house is still flawed.
- If a person foolishly destroys his liver through too much alcohol, no amount of healthy diet and exercise afterwards will make up for the damaged body.
We need intervention. We need Jesus the Carpenter, the Great Physician, to fix what only He can fix. He can—and He wants to.
That’s why He came.
For a printable version: click here.
This post supports the study “Why did Jesus Come?” in Bible Studies for Life.
Lynn, I had to face an angry Jordanian Muslim student who entered my ESL class at a charter school here in Texas. The Harmony Schools of TX are a charter school funded by the state and also the Cosmos Foundation run by an exiled Turkish Imam or high level Muslim cleric whom President Edrogan wanted extradited for inciting the military to government takeover by a coup d’etat which Edrogan squelched. That extra information I added to say the following. The Jordanian student is a student of the Koran, but like you stated first bullet “Jesus was a mortal man sent by God as a prophet . (This is taught in Islam.)” My Jordanian Muslim student slammed his books on his desk and shouted to the others in class, “I hate Jews!” I politely asked, “Why?” He muttered some incoherent phrase. I told him that I was Jewish. He blew his cork, and shouted, “I hate you too, Mr. Flores!” Later, while working on a persuasive essay in the library, it was his turn to conference with me about his persuasive composition. We talked about his previous harangue in class, and I asked him a simple question: “Did Allah create all human beings on Earth?” He nodded in the affirmative. Then, I asked him, “If Allah created all humans, then how could you say that you hate Jews and me since we were created by Allah?” It stopped him cold in his tracks. Later, we talked about what the Koran said about Jesus. When I read him John 3:16 in his own Ipad, he quickly found a verse in the Koran that said Allah never begets any son. I countered by taking him to the OT which Muslims include as part of the Koran, and asking him about Genesis 1:26 when Allah said, “Let us make man in our image according to Our likeness . . .” Who was Allah talking to in this verse? I also added that Allah or God had the power to recreate Himself if he so desired and that “beget, make, or create” were synonyms explaining God’s creative power. With his Ipad I had him read John 14:6, and told him that this verse was what Jesus said about himself. Either he was who he said he was or he was as C.S. Lewis said “a lunatic on the levle of a poached egg.” We further talked about how the Lord Jesus never gave anyone the margin to call him a great rabbi, teacher, prophet, preacher, philosopher, good moral man or any other misnomer.
Wow. Simply wow. I am so thankful for both your grace in dealing with a confrontational student and your willingness to talk, raise the right questions, and get him pondering the truth about Jesus Christ.
I’ve heard and read from Tom Doyle how God is at work among Muslims in ways we are not aware. He writes of how so many are coming to faith in Christ. It’s dialogues like yours that make a difference. Thanks for sharing.