Literally.

bible-Sunlight

You know what I’m a little tired of?

The word “literally”.  I am literally tired of the word literally.

But so is everybody else.  Especially when it’s misused.

“It was so funny I was literally dying!”   No you weren’t.  You were laughing.  Use better English

So yeah, overusing “literally” in common speech is annoying.

But you know what concerns me even more? (And will possibly get me some hate mail…)

Overusing “literally” when talking about faith.  More specifically, the Bible.

There are many Christians who read the Bible “literally”, like a book of facts.  Like the answer key for everything.  A Book that has no discrepancies and no falsehoods.

I understand  why people are attracted to that form of faith.  It means putting your faith in one source, one place in the whole world where human infallibility can’t corrupt.

The Bible becomes an anchor of singular truth, cast down from God to keep the faithful from drowning in a world of chaos.

I kind of get that.  It sounds easier than the doggy paddling my faith must do from time to time.

But here’s what I wonder:  What use is imagination if the Bible requires none?  Or doubt, for that matter, in the face of the literal truth?  Why did God give us discerning brains but then lay it all out for us at face value?

Why, after all, do human beings need the Bible to be, from cover to cover, literally true?

I, for one, think the Bible is indeed inspired by God, but written through many different people, in a variety of cultures and settings.

I think the Bible contains life shaping instruction and wisdom, but that it has to to be fleshed out with my whole being.  My mind, my traditions, even my experiences.

I don’t think of the Bible as a Fact book, filled with one unerring detail after another, but rather as a Truth book–to be uncovered and interpreted–even argued with!

By reducing my use of the word “literally” when talking about the Bible, it means the Good Book is to be used in conjunction with the rest of my life, not hovering over it, set apart from it.  It becomes the supreme faith tool, not just an answer key.

Living faithfully without the “literal” tag means a life with more uncertainty, more wrestling, and more searching for God throughout the world.

And I literally wouldn’t want it any other way.

Have a Good Week,

Mitch

misuse-of-the-word-literally-jar

Security System

“And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  -Genesis 4:7b

“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking.”  –Revelation 3:20a

 

We just bought a security system.

Signed the contract, had them install the box, the whole deal.   I’ve never been much of a security guy, but we’re living closer to the city now, and it just seemed the smart thing to do.

We kept it simple–just a tiny sensor at each of the four doors leading into our place.   When the system’s armed and a door is opened, the monitoring company is notified and the police are called.

The problem is, that alarm box doesn’t know who’s at the door.  So when I come home with my arms full of groceries, that alarm’s gonna beep at me the same as if some burglar had broken in.

You and I have a similar problem.   We can’t always tell who-or what to let through the doors of our hearts.   Even scripture points out the confusion.    In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, Jesus tells us to listen, because he’s the one knocking on our door.   In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God warns Cain that Sin is lurking just outside the door.

That’s interesting.   Christ wants in.  Cool.   But Sin wants in, too.   Not Cool.  We need a personal security system that helps us filter the bad from the good.

And we have it.   It’s called discernment.

When I walk into the door of my house, that alarm beeps for 30 seconds.  I have that amount of time to press the disarm button on my key fob, or to enter the code at the alarm box.   Either of those actions allow the alarm to discern that there’s no threat, and it will disarm.

Similarly, God has given us intelligence, intuition, and wisdom which help us discern what is Christ-worthy and what is sinful.   If we are alert, perceptive, and intentional, you and I can be open to all kinds of things–but able to shut the door on that which is not healthy or holy.

Our ability to discern good from evil is God-given and invaluable.  Without it, we might have to keep our doors closed all the time, for fear of being hurt.

It may take you 30 seconds, or 2 minutes, or several days to discern what to let in to your heart, but be thankful…

 

God is monitoring 24/7.

 

Have a great week,

 

Mitch