I have this stupid idea that if each of us can stop thinking about ourselves for one minute, and humbly read the Scriptures without imposing our own preconceived ideas, pet theologies and personal preferences on them, that we will agree on the plain, simple truth of the Word of God. In this fantasy world of mine (you know, the one in which I have stupid ideas), even so-called difficult passages of Scripture fail to hinder us, because we no longer stand to lose or gain anything except the ability to know and follow God’s pure and perfect Word. In my enchanted and magical wonderland, we as disciples of Messiah are wholly submitted to the principles and commands of Scripture—no matter what they say, how they make us feel, or the cost that they insist we incur.
We aren’t concerned, for example, about whether or not Scripture treats people “fairly”—men and women, children and adults, Jews and Gentiles—we just trust that God’s way is fair. And we no longer approach Scripture out-of-balance—exaggerating and ignoring significant parts of it at will—making everything all about the Torah, or the Holy Spirit, or the One New Man, or The Name, or Israel, or even Yeshua (i.e. at the expense of the Father), or any other subject, object, movement or doctrine.
Instead, in this nonsensical dream of mine, we take the Word at its word, neither reading into nor robbing from it according to our own wishes, revelations, self-serving omissions, or self-seeking ends. In this place of my untamed imagination, we love God so much (and ourselves so little) that we don’t care whether what we do, believe, or champion appears to be of any worth whatsoever; whether living for God will make us indescribably happy, or profoundly and utterly miserable. All that matters to us (I whimsically and recklessly muse) is our radical devotion and undying allegiance to Adonai our Savior, and His Word.
But then… I awake and remember: we don’t want to be under God’s authority—just His protection. We don’t want His guidance—just His favor. We don’t want His Word, but we’ll gladly give ear to His Opinion, and weigh it against the amount of inconvenience, discomfort and pride it would cost us to actually abide by what He says.
Of course, we would never admit to such hypocrisy—indeed, most of us would probably insist that we’re complying with the Word just fine. But if that’s so, why aren’t our congregations full of new believers? Why don’t our children remain in the faith as adults?1 Why do barely 1/8th of Christians “believe everything [the Bible] says”?2 Why are rock-star preachers questioning the existence of hell?3Why are alumni of one of the most respected evangelical colleges in America saying that they “do not believe there is anything wrong with being gay”?4How did it come to this???
Humble yourself, my brother, my sister—you are not immune. Not only have we been infected by the world’s message of individualism, materialism and self-rule, but we have been willing participants in it—furthering its insidious agenda. That is what the usurping of Scripture’s authority and the exploitation of God’s Word buys us. It’s time to lay our Self down, and let the Word alone tell us what to think and do—accepting at face value its plain, simple teachings, and submitting ourselves only to His ways.