Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Conform or Deform?

This morning, I’ve been thinking a bit about what to write for the blog. It’s not always an easy task since the imaginative, creative, initial spark is often difficult for me to find. However, I’ve been thinking about how we approach Scripture.

There are basically 2 ways we approach Scripture
1. We Approach with the Desire to Conform our Lives to what we read in Scripture. In other words, we see Scripture as the basis for which we are to live better, more God pleasing lives and we submit ourselves to it. That means that Scripture is the authority in our lives. Whenever Scripture confronts something in our lives (and it could be anything—money, sex, drinking, use of time, etc.) and shows how we are not living up to that standard, we then seek to change our behavior to conform to what God has revealed is the “better way”.

2. We Approach with the Desire to Deform Scripture to Conform to our Lives—our wants. In other words, we see our lives, our wants, desires and lusts to be more valid, more authoritative than the Word of God. Our own experience and wants determine whether we think any particular Scripture is valid, true, or applicable. So whenever Scripture confronts something in our lives, reveals some inconsistency—we reinterpret it, we dismiss it as old fashioned or outdated, we assume “they didn’t know what we know today”. We twist Scripture to say what we want it to say, to let ourselves off the hook, or even justify our behavior. Scripture becomes conformed to us, we become the authority over the Word of God and determine what is or is not true, what we will or will not include in our lives.

The first option is the option of a true follower and disciple of Jesus; one who seeks to grow and understand and willingly conform their lives to the heart and character of God that is revealed.

The second option Deforms Scripture into something it is not and essentially dismisses the idea that Scripture is authoritative at all. This is not the path of a disciple. They reason that Scripture was only written by fallible human beings and thus undermine the idea that God was involved in the process at all. So then, they are able to pick and choose what they like from Scripture and dismiss what they don’t

Therein lies the problem. If only some of the Bible is true and authoritative, how can we be sure which? Why do we assume it’s only the things we don’t like that are not true? How then can we be sure that we know anything about God, particularly the good things we all “desire” to hold on to? How can we be sure that God loves us, that there is an eternity after death, that Jesus died for our sins, that He was resurrected and gives victory over death? How do we know He was worth anything, that He didn’t die for His own sins or could do anything on our behalf? By dismissing the things that we don’t like—that do not line up with our wants and desires—we are effectively undermining the things we do like. If we try to make the Word of God conform to us, then it is no longer the Word of God, but the Word of Me.

Please do not retread the old argument that suggests because the Bible was written so long ago, to a culture not like ours that it has no relevance to our way of life today. Are there cultural differences… sure, of course there are and an understanding of that culture is very important as well as a desire to understand the principle at stake that does apply to us… and there will be one. Why? Because human nature has not changed. We still struggle with the same basic issues, with the same basic motivations that they did. Our particular expressions may be different, but the root cause or desire of them will essentially be the same. We are just as capable of doing essentially the same thing with a modern twist.

How we do it may have changed, but Why we do it hasn’t. One of the biggest differences between us today and the people of ancient and biblical times is that we have more and better toys—toys with which we will find a way to give us greater temptation or use for greater depravity. However, as Ecclesiastes repeatedly reminds us, there is really “nothing new under the sun.”

What is at stake is whether you believe that God has a better understanding of human nature, behavior and sin than you and I and any leading psychoanalytical mind of the modern world? Does the Word of God reveal the heart and desire of God? I for one do and so I seek and desire to conform my life to what Scripture reveals. I know I’ve got a long way to go, I know I’m far from perfect and truly living to the Standard of Scripture, but I trust that God will not fail, nor cease to be patient with me. However, if I don’t willfully desire to conform myself to Him, then there’s only so far He can take me, only so far He can use me effectively for His glory. What is truly amazing is that this desire to conform is not to be a burden of rules and regulations, but a truly freeing life of abundance—free from fear, free to please God because of my love for Him.

So which one are you? Do you desire to conform your life to Scripture or conform Scripture to your life?

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