"The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."
~ A.W. Towzer ~
Jonathan was seven years old, and had just gotten his first "big boy" set of Legos--a detailed set of teeny little parts that were supposed to create a very intricately designed race car. He was beyond excited and was chomping at the bit to get started on his little creation. He'd been working for two or three years already with the slightly larger and less "fun" Legos meant for smaller children, and this graduation to advanced construction and assembly made him feel ten feet tall. He was, however, a little too excited to follow the instructions that came with the package; and after I offered a little encouragement to maybe pay closer attention to what the instructions said, he expressed a very disgusted disapproval of my "help". After all, Dad didn't need instructions to put together the bookshelves that we'd purchased a few weeks prior, and he'd let it slip that "real men don't need instructions". In jest, maybe, but to a seven-year-old boy, Dad's words about what made a "man" were gospel!
I went about my business and left Jon alone, figuring it was maybe time for a little object lesson. Just as I expected, half an hour later the boy was in tears, yelling across the house that his creation was "broken" and that it was "stupid" and "didn't work". I very calmly asked him if he'd read the instructions yet, and he said he didn't need to--he had a picture to work from! Of course, at that point, all he wanted to do was throw it across the room and never touch it again. He'd lost interest in trying, so I let him go play in the backyard while I dug the instruction sheet out of the box and took on the challenge of assembling a race car.Half an hour later, a very sweaty little boy came back in and stopped dead in his tracks, wondering how on earth his "broken" set of Legos somehow became a working car, right there on the kitchen table. "Simple," I told him. "I followed the instructions." He didn't believe me, so I took it all apart and sat down with him to follow the steps in order and to the letter. We re-created a perfect replica of the picture on the box, and believe it or not, it worked PERFECTLY. To this day, he still rolls his eyes a bit when I ask him if, during the assembling process, he has consulted the instruction manual. However, he knows that there are some things he can't just "wing it" with, that if he wants the final product to be perfectly assembled and in the working order that the designer intended, he has no choice but to follow the directions given by that designer. There just isn't any other acceptable way. He CAN use a little creative license, but the finished product will be different, every single time.
This is one of those 'religious' issues that has me stumped. Maybe I'm just too much of a purist, but I just can't understand sometimes why folks would think that anything less than strict adherence to God's instruction booklet would produce an acceptable result. I've talked with people who will see a particular truth in black and white on the pages of the Bible but discount it in favor of "pastor says" thus and such or "well I've always interpreted that to mean" whatever. Why would we do that and still expect God's plan to work as He designed it? Why is religion the only facet of "truth" that we believe is up for debate?
I was listening to my 'Wow! Hymns' CD this morning on my way home from taking Pete to work, and the song "Trust and Obey" was playing. How timely, no? In the quiet (haha) solitude of my empty-except-for-me minivan, I was able to really stop and meditate on the words I've sung probably two hundred times in my life:
"When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way. While we do His good Will, He abides with us still, never fear; only trust and obey."
Are we really so bold as to believe that we can put our faith in a God we don't fully trust to determine His own plan? Do we truly trust God enough to obey His Will in its entirety or are we only willing to accept the truths that mesh with our limited understanding or the agendas of men who have gone on before us? If God says it, are we truly willing to accept it and live it? Are we really, as we sing, willing to walk in the light of His Word and cast off fear to trust and obey Him?
I'm reminded of the Family Circus cartoons that appear in the comics every week, and the antics of the little boy (Billy, is it?) who can never seem to go from point A to point B without taking a hundred little sidetrips in between. It's funny, but not comical when you consider how many people live their spiritual lives chasing after all those little sidetracked rabbit trails in search of meaning, joy, happiness, and fulfillment. The danger lies in never actually getting to point B; sometimes in the search for human meaning, the objective (which SHOULD be living a life in line with God's Will) becomes blurred and we can lose sight of what we were actually aiming for in the first place. Satan is crafty and he's very good at what he does; he puts things in front of us that "feel" more right than doing what truly IS right.
The most frightening passage of Scripture to me is Matthew 7:21-29:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out deomons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
I can only imagine what it must have been like to be in the crowd that day, hearing the words of the Savior who would eventually give up His life in the most perfect example of love and obedience the world has ever seen, but I know that now, thousands of years later, reading that passage fills me with a fear of God that sparks within me the desire to know everything I can about the Will of God. I want nothing more than to purge myself of my own opinions and fill my heart and mind with the perfection found in God's Word. I don't have time for interpretations. I couldn't care less about what religious "scholars" opine about the doctrine of the day. I have no patience for manmade theologies, because I don't want to be counted among the number who will stand before the Lord Jesus and be told to depart because He never knew them. I want only to have my foundation built upon the One who speaks with authority.
Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent. Do Bible things in Bible ways, call Bible things by Bible names. Nothing else but the very Word of God can produce the result He had in mind when He designed it. Sure, we can practice creative license, but we can't expect the same end product. The end product of creative religious license is to be numbered with those whom the Lord will not "know".
In "Other" Words is hosted by Debbie at Chocolate and Coffee this week; why not take some time to blog about this week's quote, leave a link, and see what others had to say about it?