Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quoth the Father

Can we just stop quoting Scripture at each other already?


Because here's the thing: it doesn't mean anything to me when you say it. And it rarely means to anyone what you think it does. 

We throw Scripture around, certain ones especially, as the times seem to dictate, but it's meaningless the way we do it. Someone's having trouble believing in this or that or even themselves, and a well-meaning Christian comes along and says, "Philippians 4:13." (I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.) Which sounds nice except right now, I don't have strength and I don't have Christ and it doesn't feel like I can do anything, let alone all things. And now, not only am I feeling bad about my life, but I'm feeling bad about my faith. Clearly, I don't have enough of it or I could truly do all things.

Or maybe times are just really tough. Days are hard. No fear! There is always Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want...." Except that right now, I do want. I desperately want. I desperately want things not to be like this. I desperately want things to be different. The Lord may be my shepherd, but it's shearing season and we're not friends right now. So now, I'm not only thinking about my hard times but I'm now even more aware of the distance between me and God.

And those green pastures and still waters? You know what makes a pasture green? It's the...fertilizer. It's all the...manure...that's been poured there over the years, and right now, I'm making my own green pasture. Thanks.

Quoting Scripture at each other implies a few things. It implies that I know exactly what you're going through and what your particular struggle is. That I know all of the factors at play and am confident to make an assessment of the level of your trial. Enough of an assessment, anyway, to meet it with a Word God once upon a time spoke to someone else going through something completely different. Because we're all human; we bring our personal human element with us and everything we go through is different.

It also implies that I know what God is doing. That He is strengthening you for all things. That He is shepherding you toward something good. That He has green pastures and still waters for you. Maybe He doesn't. Maybe He's breaking you down in this season, and not strengthening you. Maybe He's not guiding you right now; maybe He's letting you be, letting you figure things out and find your way back to Him. Maybe He's just hoeing the fertilizer and the pasture isn't even green for Him yet. 

I have never, in my life, been uplifted by a Scripture anyone has quoted at me in a time of trouble or trial. Or even in the good times. Never. Not once. I have always been burdened by them. On many levels. I feel like it makes me not the expert on my life; you are. I feel like it increases the tension I feel. I feel like I'm not struggling "right" or maybe like I have no right to struggle at "all." For all the "Christian" things we say, it ends up being not very Christian-like at all. 

I'm not saying we don't use Scripture at all. That would be an error in the other direction. But there is a way to use the Word wisely and gently. I'll share that with you tomorrow. 

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