Friday, October 29, 2010

Quoting the Book vs. knowing the Author

“...Yet mere] knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud), but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature].”

“But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.”

It is not just Bible talk; it is a lifestyle. Do we impress or intimidate with our knowledge or do we share the love of God? What's the difference? It is in how well you know the Author of the Book!

I recognize that everybody has a different communication style and personality, varying levels of intellect and vocabulary, but one thing remains constant: the Bible without the God of the Bible is worthless, period. Do people get as far as hearing about a God who loves them and sent His son to die for our sins, or do they get lost in the maze of quoted scriptures, thinking that they either don’t know their Bible that well (compared to you) or will never know it as well? When we share the Gospel is the emphasis God or us? Do we edify or do we compete? The latter can easily cause the Bible to be nothing more than lifeless words, lost on some pages of just another book. But if we contain Jesus beyond our intellect, even if you are a cracked pot, how can you prevent His light from shining through and touching the life of another with His love? Bringing forth life is what God does. Don’t get in the way of that.

I’ve known people in my walk with God who have been very capable of quoting scriptures from the Bible that made me (for one) feel ashamed: book, chapter, verse, and even part a, b or c whether anyone cared to know or not. However, I have seen those same people not bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Somewhere on my journey of loving the Lord, I have lost my admiration and my respect for that. I have to agree with what I’ve once heard, that it is more important that you live the verses that you know, even if they are few, instead of knowing it all and not walking the talk. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the latter impress God either.

Over time in my relationship with God I have come across an increasing number of people who do not want to hear the Bible quoted to them. They often refer to those Christians as Bible bashers and I’ve seen many steer clear. I have also come across more people who look at someone quoting the Bible and not living the example – not just making mistakes, but a lifestyle of disagreement – and making the decision that they prefer the life they have instead and don’t desire to be like that Christian.

I have heard countless people feeling judged and condemned by the Bible for the way people wield their two edged sword, beheading and decapitating the very ones that Jesus died to save. They end up never knowing the God of the Bible, the God who IS love; Not that He loves sin, but who sent His son to die for the sinner so they may know His unconditional love for them. Maybe the wielding is done with the best of intentions, but ignorant nonetheless and most certainly destructive.

I have heard the Bible quoted to point out the sin of another, yet when the same person is confronted about a weakness or mistake of his own they quote the verses about letting he with no sin cast the first stone... What makes you superior to the one at whom you were flinging stones..? In the final analysis we are all sinners saved only by the sacrifice of an Only Begotten Son – Jesus – salvation by grace. Some make the choice to accept that sacrifice earlier, but it does not make you superior, neither to him who chooses it later or to him who never chooses it. (However, it will change the consequence that each one will experience as a result of their choice – undeniably so.)

I’m not saying that quoting the Bible is wrong, purse. I am questioning the motive of the human heart when we pull that black book out of our back pocket. Do you send a message of a loving, life giving God or something else that has more to do with yourself... judging another, struggling with own insecurities/low self esteem, self justification, trying to prove a point in a proud argument that really has nothing to do with God, etc...

Neither am I saying that knowing the Bible well is wrong. After all, it is our weapon of warfare. It is what you do with that knowledge that matters, and sadly the reality is that it is not always about God. Some people have Botox injections and buy a new car every six months, and sometimes Christians quote the Bible for the same reasons.

Bottom line: we are to love the way the God of the Bible does. That is every Christian’s highest ~ first and foremost ~ calling, and the Bible is there to help us learn all about that.

Personally I have become fond of those who teach the Word from the heart of God with simplicity and practical application; something I can actually do something with, instead of just impressive words. When you start off, “J-O-H-N 3:16.........” you’ve lost me. I am first and foremost concerned with what God says... the where is not the first priority (although good to note). It is an afterthought, something that can always be asked for or looked up. I want to have that personal experience of His presence and I want to feel that He is within my reach and not some “pie in the sky”, cold, impersonal Bible quote. John 3:16 doesn’t change my life, but the content of it does: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for my sins, and if I accept and believe it, I become His child and gain eternal life.

I have come to a place in my life where I want to hear God’s heart beat and I want to talk plainly and simply (yet truthfully)... I want to feel the joy and the warmth of His presence and I want to fellowship with Him, just like He did with the disciples when He used to eat with them and visit with them in someone’s home. I love the parables and stories. He told them life changing truths as if talking about the weather... plain and simple, and love just radiated from Him and many were transformed by it. The gospel is not complicated.

Sometimes when I hear people quote the Bible I think of a scenario where maybe a doctor has to share the news of a death of a loved one on an operating table. Plainly quoting the Bible is like the doctor who makes you feel like they’re talking about a kitchen utensil; cold, clinical and impersonal. You want to shout at them, beating a fist on their chest, “THAT IS MY BABY IN THERE!!! (or husband, or mother or father, etc...)” Another doctor will tell you the same news and you’ll feel convinced that they did all they could, pulled out all the stops – a sense of compassion that touches a deeper part of you, a sense of truly caring and sharing your grief – somehow comforting, even though it does not bring your loved one back.

I guess what this leaves me with is: When you “talk Bible” or tell others about God, what do you think their experience is of it? Do they get to the God of the Bible; do they hear His heartbeat through your words, or are their noses moulded imprints in the jell-o puffiness of intellectual knowledge about words on a page of some book about some important person somewhere and tomorrow they’ve forgotten where it is all written again... They tried too hard to remember the quote that they didn’t hear the rest... some guy called John... and something to do with a 6... or is it 16?... or something or other... oh well...

I long for the simplicity of the message of love and salvation. I long for the Bible to come alive when I read it – that it would stand up from the pages. In the same way I desire that it will be so for those that I share it with. I long that they will feel the love of the God that I’m talking about and that it will unleash something in them that will set their souls on fire with a burning desire to know this God that I’m so passionately enthusiastic about. I want for God to use me to show others that you don’t have to be smart or know the whole Bible; you can start with one verse and it can also change your life, as long as you grab a hold of the God behind it who is the Author of the change that His Word brings.

Lord, I want to know more so that I can feel closer to You. And as I get closer to You, may you increasingly radiate from me, that Holy Spirit will reveal the truths of your Word in me when I speak of You, but also even in the unspoken words of my life, and even when I stumble but my heart is right before you, use it somehow for good by Your grace to teach them one more thing about You. May they hear Your heartbeat and be curious enough to also want to come lay their head on Your chest to hear what I hear... A love like no other – one beat at a time!

*Note: For info... the intro is a quote from 1 Cor 8: 1; (Amplified & New Living Translation respectively)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have been digging deep... I can feel it in your words! I am increasingly proud of you and your victories.

This journey is taking you places, Lia... And the discoveries are astonishing!

Stay true to the Beating of your Heart! It will never lead you astray.

This is a powerful piece!!