Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Words of God...
“…Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…”
There is, for the Christian, no book as sublime as the Bible! It has for us the story of God and his dealings with humanity, and in its pages, in a real sense you encounter the very Word of God. The Bible for me has been not just formative in my religious thought, but a source of guidance, strength, consolation and peace. Yet, as I struggle to live my life as a follower of Christ I find that, beautiful and inspiring as it is, its message can be misunderstood! There are concepts taken at face value in different time periods and cultures where the original words were penned and .... some have changed. People engaged in that inspired writing had ideas we no longer hold! Our modern concepts of God, humanity, sin, life have all been the subject of conversation, study, prayer, investigation and debate for at least two millennia and wether we like to admit it or not....have evolved.
I have also found that sincere, wonderful Spirit filled people can have very diferent perspectives on what a particular passage of the Bible means and how it should be applied to our times. Sincere Christians have disagreed on the propriety of slavery, the rights of women, individual reading of the Bible, the use of instruments in church, speaking in tongues, the Eucharist and a host of other things. Sometimes, as society and the church have evolved, Christians have ended up on the wrong side of issues , and their interpretation of particular texts of the Bible found to be quite nearsighted...! Sometimes it has happenned, even ilustrated in Scripture, where sincere folk quoting Bible passages quite right have been dead wrong! Even the brightest light can not iluminate eyes that want to remain shut, nor the Words that free penetrate our plugged ears.
It is for these reasons that my study and application of Scripture must be full of prayer, openness and love. Whereas it is, for me useful, for all instruction, and contains those things necessary for salvation, a generous attitude has to be given to its interpretation. The rigid dogmatism of the “letter” has been known stifle the movement of the Holy Spirit that leads us to ever more freedom, knowledge of Christ and love of neighbor.