Just What is Red Letter Living?

November 17, 2008 — 3 Comments

In general red letter living is just plain old Christians living but concentrating on the actual words of Jesus for the primary lessons in life.  To me some of the most significant red letters comes from the Sermon on the Mount. But, there are many other lessons that I am sure are almost as valuable. Red letter living serves three purposes: one is to thank God for His saving grace through Jesus Christ as shown by our compassion for others. The second it show us how to live while we are on this earth and how to treat each other. And the final purpose is to help others come to an understanding of who Jesus is and why they need Him in their lives.

I want to tell you up front that while I read the Bible regularly and try to learn as many lessons for my life as I can I am not one of those who can or will cite chapter and verse for much of what I read. St. Paul said that we should always be prepared to give those who ask the reason why we live the way we do. He was making the assumption that Christians, once they come to Christ, will live differently (meaning better/holier lives) than when they were pagans and that others will want to follow our lead. While that may have been true of the early Christians I’m not so sure that it is true today. But, I am getting off track here :).  I am convinced that when we talk to people who are not Christians about how we live many are turned off when we start citing chapter and verse.  We are much better off just giving them the lessons in our own words but, of course, backed up by the red letters without all the numbers attached.  It then comes across as a personal dialogue instead of just a recitation.

But why concentrate primarily on the red letters? For me personally it is because these are the only words in the New Testament that actually come out of God’s mouth.  I am sure that the apostles, including St Paul’s many epistles, were inspired by God in everything they wrote but they wrote from a human perspective not from the omnipotent viewpoint of Christ.  And, since I have only so many years on this earth before I join my fellow Christians who have died before me I want to make sure I get at least the red letters right. That is not to say that I will ever totally understand the meaning behind the words.  Sometimes I come to a completely different meaning of some red letters than I did when I read them before. That often depends on what lessons I have learned getting to that point in my life.  That is one of the awesome things about His words and  why continuing bible study is so important for me.

Ok, you are starting to get an understanding of where I am coming from on this blog.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I certainly have a lot of questions and I think if we keep studying the red letters most of them will be answerable. Let’s enjoy this journey together.

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3 responses to Just What is Red Letter Living?

  1. 

    There seems to be some major flaws in this idea of the red letters being more important or more the words of God. The truth is that the whole Bible is the words of Jesus. From the Old Testament to the New Testament- it is all about Jesus and is the Word of God.

    The other problem is that the red letters that you talk about were written down by men and were written sometime after Jesus ascended. They all are the words of God not just the red letters. If one reads just certain words out of their context they will come to false conclusions and theology.

    The whole thing is important, not just parts.

    mvd

  2. 

    Thanks Mike for your comments. I respectively take a different view than you. I don’t see where it is a “major flaw” to study the words directly attributable to Jesus himself. Yes, the Old and New Testaments are about Jesus but not from Jesus’ mouth.

    I agree that the words of Jesus were written down by men many years after his death and resurrection. Except for possibly the Pauline letters that is the case rather than the exception for the Bible as a whole. I have a posting coming soon about this topic so check it out. But, are you saying that since they were not written down my Jesus himself they are suspect? I hope that is not your point as then you would be putting the whole Bible in question as most of it was written down after many years of oral tradition.

    Yes, if we take things out of context we may come to false conclusions. I don’t see where that is applicable for studying the words of Jesus. I always consider the circumstances around the words but that is the case for every word in the Bible, not just the red letters. As for taking things out of context, I do have problems with that occurring in many churches today but it is likely different from your concerns. I think that many today dilute the words of Jesus so they don’t have to be concerned about “doing what he says”.

  3. 

    I am not saying they are flawed, but I am saying that the “red letters” that were not red in the original version are no more or less the words of Jesus. All of the Bible is the word of Jesus.

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