Monday, November 4, 2013

~ Pick and choose..."

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:1-4)

Luke 17:2 is a verse that was held to bear the weight of a controversial murder trial in the great state of Texas.  When you mix bad and unfounded religious beliefs with the impressionable mind of someone who is not IN their right mind, there is bound to be trouble.  When you throw human imperfection into that mix (the fact that even well educated physicians make mistakes), you come up with tragedy!  I have experienced these occurrences personally and was VERY fortunate to walk away dented, but not destroyed.

Some people tend to pick and choose verses at random, offering an often irrational or unbelievably sinister interpretation of one verse in a chapter of many.  God is not irrational, nor is He sinister!  His word - the entire word of God - is good!  It is the testimony of His mercy and grace toward us that shows through in each and every chapter, in each and every book.  

Yes, there are verses we focus on when we are in sorrow (they help to lift us), there are verses we focus on when we feel lost (they help to ground us), there are verses we focus on when we are lonely (they help remind us that we are not alone), and there are other verses that essentially have become our favorites.  However, without knowing the verses that precede or follow, how can we know the context of what is written, the meaning of the individual words when applied to the whole.  You cannot open "War and Peace" (yes, I'm dating myself) and read one line in the middle of the book and KNOW what the writer means.  You have to read the entire book, or at least the chapter or maybe, I'll acquiesce to, at least a paragraph or two.

It is important that when we pass on our knowledge of God's love and mercy, that we remind our often, less familiar listener, that God does not require any sacrifice on our part to be saved.  He does not advise us that destruction of others is part of His plan of salvation.  He does not ask us to do what Jesus has already done.  

We have seen the results of over-indulgent cults who have led to the deaths of many people, allegedly in the name of God.  We have witnessed the destruction of many thousands of lives based on a belief in someone or something other than the God of love we choose to follow as Christians.  We know the brainwashing of certain Christian denominations that actually insist that unless you are OF this denomination, heaven is not within your grasp.  

So where do we draw the line?  How do we know which is right and which is not?  For me, it's as simple as listening when "preachers" are speaking.  If they do not use the word of God as a whole, then I probably wouldn't want to spend too much time sitting in one of their pews.  If the hair stands up on the back of my neck, I know its probably a good idea to research and get other opinions.  When I see preachers leave and start their own church because the majority of the congregation they are serving doesn't seem to agree with what is being taught, I sit up and take notice.  Only through open-mindedness and conscience interaction can we come to know in our hearts that are souls are being fed properly.

One verse that can stand on it's own, without being misinterpreted comes in John 12:46..."I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."