Please bear with me as I complain a little about how some people treat God and His Word. Here is someone who is big enough to create everything and through His power, hold it all together. Then He created us (people) to share eternity with Him… Him loving and caring for us and us loving Him… However, we (people) fell short and took advantage of the free will God gave us to choose.
Jump forward a few thousand years and here we are. We still have the ability to decide things for ourselves (God gave us this ability so we could freely choose to love Him) and God doesn’t change, He still longs for that loving relationship between us and Him. Our direct disobedience to God (sin) prohibits this so He created a way for us to overcome our sins. Through His grace and love for us, He sent His Son to die in our place so we could be included in His eternal plan.
In His love and concern for us, He gave us the Bible. I’ll keep this short – the Old testament shows us what He expects and that we will never be perfect. It shows us we need a Savior. In the New Testament, He provides that Savior (Jesus) and explains how we should live and all of the things that would please Him.
Okay so far? From here on, I am talking to Christians, not as much to non-believers. After all, they are just being what they believe…
God says that when you accept Christ as your Savior, He (God) forgives your past, current, and future sins as far as the west is from the east. Paul stresses that this is not an excuse to keep on sinning and that by continuing to sin does not bring more Glory to God.
Since God loves us so much that He died for us, why would we go through His Word and just pick and choose what should and shouldn’t apply to our lives. Before you think I am being self-righteous, I catch myself doing it sometimes. I try to correct myself, but I am not perfect either.
This is by no means the only subject that we manipulate or ignore, but it is one of the big ones… Giving! God speaks more on giving than any other subject in the Bible! When a pastor brings it up, the first thing we think is, “I wonder if I can sneak out.” God knew we would think like this, that’s why He talks so much about it.
The Old Testament establishes tithing and how it will be used. The New Testament says that God loves a cheerful giver. Giving isn’t just about tithes and money… say there is an 80-year old woman that lives near you and you cut her lawn once per week… you are giving!
There’s a type of preaching called “Prosperity Preaching.” Without naming names, they will teach that when you give lots of money, God will bless you with more money. Of course, the best place to give is to them.
The Bible teaches that when you give, God will bless you to overflowing. Your barns (or garage if you don’t have a barn – humor) will be full to overflowing. What they don’t teach you is that God’s blessings come in many forms, not just in financial gain. In fact, you may not see your blessing till you get to Heaven… remember, He stores up your treasures in Heaven!
He does want you to give of your money, but it is so He can see that you trust Him to take care of you. Don’t get me wrong, you may be blessed financially because of your giving, but that should not be why you give. The point here, people manipulate God’s Word for personal gain.
We read the Bible and maybe even commit it to memory. That is a great thing. However, committing the words to memory without understanding what you have memorized doesn’t help. The purpose of memorizing scripture is so we can lead a better, more fulfilling life. It is not so we can shove it down someones throat and show them how bad they are.
As a follower of Christ, I am sure you have heard that God longs for a personal relationship with YOU. He does not want that relationship through someone else… like your pastor… He has things that are just for you and He will not share them with anyone else. When you accept this and quit manipulating what the Bible says to match what you heard someone else say, you will be blown away by the amount of love God shows you… personally.
Think about how many denominations and even sub-denominations there are. How can there be so many different ways of thinking about a single message? Along the way, God shared His thoughts with someone and that someone had a charismatic personality and shared the message he received with others. They liked His personality and said, cool, I’ll follow what he says! It is easier than trying to hear from God myself and having others think I am strange for getting a different message.
Okay, I don’t know this for a fact. But something happened that caused all of this different thinking. The same God related to them that that relates to us today. A pastor can share with you what he has learned from God and do his best to share it in the manner in which it was intended. However, even the pastor can be biased and influenced in his teaching. Pastors are not perfect either. That is why the Bible says to test everything against what the Bible says.
Did you know that God can use the pastor’s message to relay personal messages to many different people? And none of the personal messages are the same because God is attempting to have a one-on-one relationship with you. It is a shame, but many if not most denominations encourage a personal with God as long as that relationship is what they say it is. They leave very little room for God to offer a personal form of expression to you.
He created you exactly how He wanted you and can communicate with you exactly as you need to be communicated with. For some, that is solely through the Bible. That’s okay, His word is powerful. For some, it is in other ways. That’s okay too, as long as your communication never contradicts what the Bible says. I believe God is Big enough and Powerful enough to have a relationship any way He wants.
What He doesn’t want is for us to use His Word as a means of manipulation. There’s a difference between manipulation and instruction. With instruction, we are helping one of God’s children grow in Christ. With manipulation, we are telling them to grow like us and do what we say because we have the inside track on the thoughts of God.
Does God want us to share His Word? Absolutely. Does He want us to use His Word? Of course, as a tool to grow by, to help others grow, to know we are loved, to know Him better, to protect us from Satan, and the list goes on. Doe He want us to use His Word to get people to think like us? No, He wants us to use His word to get people to think like Him.
When you share God’s Word (which I hope you do), leave room for God to do His thing. Believe me, His thing is much bigger than anything we can come up with. Keep in mind, that goes for us, too. When we are spoken to, give God the room to do what He wants to do in your life. Then you will really see how He can bless you to the point your barns are filled to overflowing.
God Bless you. and thank you for being patient with me.