Too often, we hear people quoting the Bible and more often than not, they’re quoting a passage with the sole purpose of proving their point of view — sadly, they use the holy book more as a tool of confirmation bias and they fail to fully understand the passage.
I need to elaborate on my point a bit: there are those among us who claim to be “religious” and often, their form of faith is centered on arrogance. For example, they don’t like certain people because of race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation and they seek out Biblical passages that they believe bolsters or confirms their own prejudice. Usually, that passage is from the Old Testament and they wield it like a weapon. This is in reality, confirmation bias, because they believe it proves them right and the other wrong. This is a very misguided and abhorrent behavior, because they’re not being true to their faith, but rather, are using it for their own agenda. Being religious and being true to the faith are two very different things.
When it comes to reading the Bible, we have to do so with the understanding that it can be in many ways, a mystery and thus, easy for us to misunderstand. However, the Parables of Jesus are the opposite, because they are spoken in simple language and easy for man to understand — the Parables are in truth, beautiful and powerful life lessons we can all learn from.
The Parable of the Net
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 13:47-50
What we learn from this parable is that in essence, we can throw out the net in life and when we look at what was caught up in the net, there will be all manner of “fish” and some will be good fish and some will be bad. The same can be said for people we choose to associate with — some are bad and probably not right for us, while others are good and will do us more good than bad. When it comes to positivity, this is clear — spend time with the wrong sort and negativity permeates, but spend time with the right kind and positivity grows and prospers.
But the more powerful message is for each of us: “The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Which do we want to be? Do you want to get thrown out, or kept? The parable tells a story with the purpose of giving us vital information and the inside track: be good, do good, show kindness, be generous, have gratitude and live a moral life…but as important and if not more so, be true to the faith by having real faith.
The “religious” among us can quote all the Bible passages they like, but do they know the true meaning of the words they regurgitate? Do they realize that often, they’re only quoting the passage to make themself look superior? A person of faith however, realizes that misunderstanding a Bible passage is not a sin, but using it as a weapon of hatred is. Moreover, a person who has true faith, realizes that if how they act and speak always comes from a place of love and compassion…they’re the good fish.
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17
“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1-39