Did He Just Say That?!
So glad that Oliver Ferguson can share with us again! – Renée
“Hold up… wait a minute. Did they really just say that?” Someone made a bold declaration that seems a little too bold. When this happens (after our double take or a side eye) we might say, “Excuse me? Did you just say____” …expecting to hear a confession that they ‘misspoke’ or an attempt to walk back the initial weight of the statement by couching it in more acceptable language. Our conversation partner, having been put on the spot, might get super self-conscious or defensive. They may even throw it back on you, saying it’s really that you misheard them.
What’s this dance about anyway? We think about saying something bold, but we don’t want to deal with the implications. On the other hand, a lot of us think of ourselves as the kind of people who would confront an off remark when it’s not so easy. The double take/did you just say gives each party the opportunity for “an out” or a reset. The speaker doesn’t really have to stand behind their bold statement, and the hearer doesn’t have to enforce accountability either on the speaker or for themselves.
I have had the privilege of teaching a class at my work and I had one of those “…did you really just say that?” moments in class last week. No, it wasn’t an errant student talking out of turn. It wasn’t me being controversial. Jesus was the offending party:
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Matthew 22:34-40 (CEB)
“Hold up… did he just suggest that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is equivalent to loving God? That it just was important? Surely, he didn’t mean that! Is Jesus able to see my side eye right now? Does he want to rephrase that? You know, to reassure me that what he really meant was loving God was the real deal and “it would be kinda cool if we loved our neighbors too!” or “…point was the love yourself part!”
He’s not going to dial it back is he. He meant it. Loving neighbor is like loving God. I could handle the first part, because well I can’t see God and I can love him in ‘my own way.’ But the neighbor? I can see that person and that person. That comes with the weight of actual responsibity and accountability. I knew this verse, said it many times, but I didn’t really appreciate the weight of it before.
Wow… Lord, “this message is harsh, who can hear it?” (John 6:60). “I have faith, help my lack of faith!” (Mark 9:24).