Sunday, March 2, 2014

The WHOLE Truth

It is 6 AM. I am  pinned under two dogs and relegated to about 16" of space on the sofa. I'm looking at the roll that has begun to form somewhere under my laptop and above my thighs. Emotionally, I find myself, comforted by my dogs who love me -- or, perhaps, my sofa -- and disgusted by this fleshy, abhorrent roll. I know I am fat. But I am also very comfortable. So rather than take the dogs for a walk, I do some ridiculously lame leg lift-things as I type away on the computer.

All this to say, I am a physical, emotional, intellectual being, with the ability to make decisions, engage in physical -- or not so physical activity -- and enjoy the company of others. To label me as any one of those things, singularly, would be to miss out on the complete being that is me.

I found the following images in approximately 30 seconds-worth of searching on the old interweb:

A History Book
An Instruction Manual

A Love Story
Is anyone one of these more true than another?

Recently, someone has encouraged me to look at the Bible a little differently -- to notice how New Testament writers were influenced by Old Testament Scriptures, to see how one prophet employed the writings of another to make his point, to consider the emotion and character of the writer, and to examine various accounts of the same event in light of the writers and their relationship with The Author. I have to say, I never thought of examining the Bible this way.

However, for me to study Scripture this way, to the exclusion of details and language, would be wrong. For instance:

Psalm 121:1-3
"I will lift up my eyes to the hills --
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

"He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber."  

Plenty of metaphor in these verses. But, if I were only to treat it as figurative language, meant to stir my heart to worship a faithful, mighty God, or as a psalm of encouragement to keep me fighting against principalities and walking according to God's direction, I would miss so many other truths.

"Lifting my eyes up to the hills" could mean looking for allied forces to deliver, or looking for deliverance from idols worshipped on hillsides in that day. Thus begs the question "from where/ how" will I be rescued. Or maybe the hills are the hills of Moriah and Zion, where the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God, was stationed. There are word pictures here.

"The Lord who made heaven and earth," who "will not slumber," certainly makes me feel as though I have hitched my wagon to the right star -- a God who created it all, who watches over me without pause. But is that all this verse is about -- making me feel good about being on the right team? invoking reassurance and the motivation to push on? I get that; I really do, but if I were to say that's all I get, or primarily what I get, I am doing the Holy Scriptures an appalling disservice.

The Word of God is living; with every reading it brings new truth. The Bible is timeless; it never becomes irrelevant, and its truths are never obsolete. It is a Book of reality -- not emotion and a general type of inspiration, exclusively; its promises will come to pass! And IT IS INERRANT!

Some folks don't like the rigidity of some of these ideas, and would prefer to see the Bible as a half-truth or figure of speech. Some folks like a little more wiggle room with their prophecy or their truth -- to view difficult or "offensive" principles in a sort of general, one-dimensional sphere that they can more easily accept or peddle to their New Age friends. 

I would love to believe that all of those "really good people" I know, who live their lives in the spirit of the Bible, though in reality reject God and His Word, will somehow earn a pass and be standing next to me in Heaven. But God and His Word are no more one-dimensional than you or I; there is a truth that comes with a moral, and a course of action that is born out of that moral. It is my hope that even really good people will follow it.
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