The Word of God and Arrow
To talk to you about my feelings about “the Word of God” I would first like to share a bit with you. I grew up on a farm in the thumb area of Michigan where the dirt is black as can be and fertile. Animals were like second nature as my father was a farmer on a cattle farm and cats and dogs ran “amuck. I got my first dog when I was two, a dachshund my father named Taffy. From that time on we had different kinds of dogs but never a cat in the house. My father hated them for some reason and saw no point to their existence.
He tolerated them on the farm but once we got our own place, cats were exterminated whenever they showed up at our barn. I think it gave me some sort of insecurity where animals were concerned, because you didn’t dare fall in love with a stray cat. Its existence was surely limited, once my father found out it was hanging around our 3 and ½ acre modest property. He literally would grab the nearest shotgun and get rid of it(yes, I was hurt by that).
My Turn To Own a Pet
As an adult I wanted a dog but I wanted to be able to care for it efficiently. I waited a long time to get one and on Valentine’s Day, 1999. My then husband dropped a bag of dog food on my lap when I was looking at my computer. I was ecstatic, and we headed off to the nearby shelter to find my puppy.
The Hunt for a Dog
Now, I was looking for a female dog and I wouldn’t have minded finding a dachshund (a hot dog, dog). We went to one shelter and every dog was full of mange or old or beaten up and half starved. I didn’t see anything that remotely tugged at my heart. We went to another shelter and walked in the door to find a woman with a big, furry, reddish looking female chow. Next to her was a cardboard box with puppies in it.
He Stole My Heart!
My husband walked away because he was headed for the “cat walk” to check out all the dogs in the cages. I was intrigued by these puppies as they looked like black Lab pups and Dalmatians. The woman explained to me that a dog can have a different father for every single puppy. I picked up a wrinkled, little, all black puppy and looked into his eyes. He snuggled under my chin and licked me, and I was in love. I knew he was the one with all my heart.
“Can you tell them you’re turning in 3 puppies?” I asked, still holding my new baby.
“Get out of here” she said, and off I went with my new little bundle of joy.
Not all Advice is Good Advice
I had advice by friends about how to raise my new dog. They said that I should feed him twice a day. I was warned that if I didn’t, he would be fat and develop poor eating habits. They said that I should “fix” him, or he would get mean when he was older.
They said a lot because they meant well. My father gave me the best advice when he told me to give him time, and he would name himself. I followed that advice and two weeks later, as I was driving down curvy roads in Virginia, my puppy was playing with me and named himself.
“You sure are a straight arrow aren’t’cha?” I said. Something felt right and Arrow became the only dog I have ever owned. The dog who owned my heart.
He’s was with me for 16 beautiful years. I always kept his dog food bowl full, and he was never heavy. I never took his doggy manhood away, and he stayed docile and kind and not even aggressive toward other dogs. He was healthier than most dogs his age and his teeth were better than most dogs his age. Every veterinarian that saw him would compliment how well he was doing.
Opinions are like…
I share this story because opinions will always exist that are not necessarily true. There will always be someone who believes they outrank you due to your gender, intelligence or some other disqualifying factor in their mind. The Bible actually has a good quote for this moment:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
The Institutionalized Church has presumed that “its way” is the best way and that how they function is correct. As soon as you meet a stranger that finds out that you have “accepted Jesus” and belong to their club, then comes, “where do you go to church?”
The church takes the vision of how Christians are “supposed to be different” from the world to “cookie cutter” extremes. Christians in the IC are encouraged to “dress to impress” and the higher up the ladder one gets, the “nicer” they are supposed to dress. Christians in the IC are encouraged to act a certain way. They are instructed in a cultural language that is often referred to as “Christianese”.
Gaggles of Geese Christians
For some, the language is so “out there” that when they are observed in social circles outside of the church (in packs), they are observed to be weird or strange. This lingo is often annoying to their family members because they can’t turn it off when they get outside of their church circle.
The extremist and often radicalized Institutional Church, which is predominantly non-denominational, has members listening to the same music. That music is, of course, being funneled to them from the same extreme Christian organizations.
Shadow and Substance?
This is mirrored by the Jewish community being separated by God from the rest of humanity. These Christian radicals see themselves as modern day Jews and chant their scripture, “come out from among them and be ye separate”. They use the bible as an excuse for their segregation.
Brought up in Church
New Christians in the Institutional Church are instructed to “desire the sincere milk of the word” and this is defined as teaching from a pulpit, or by any other means they can find. Yet, this gets tricky, because any individual revelations that the “baby” Christian has is approved or disapproved by the hierarchy.
Watch out for Devil Doctrines
When one dares to embrace doctrine outside of their collective that might disagree with the collective, then they are warned of “doctrines of devils”. The “wolves in sheep’s clothing” verse gets thrown around to quell any dissidence. All this scares the new believer into absolute submission. The word “submit” is used as a one sided “off switch” to turn these “followers” from warm to cold should they try to develop a shred of independent thought.
Babies in the faith are instructed to follow, with absolute obedience when called upon. Gradually, they begin to see that promotion in this “kingdom” comes through what is affectionately called, “leadership”. Some never ascend to the fact that there is no place for them in the leadership, and there never will be. They exist, as a subordinate in a body that should be equal to them.
Christians in the Institutional Church are also reminded often that “light has no fellowship with darkness”. They are also told that now is the time to stop sinning. The new convert realizes that whenever they hang out with their “unchurched” friends, they are apt to “fall”. Then, they end up at the altar week after week repenting for one thing or another.
Don’t Question the Leader
When they are disheartened and frustrated at their inability to perfect themselves, they ask for advice. The answer is to sever ties with outside connections and stay within the safety of the collective. Of course this is communicated as “only till you mature”. The reality is that the majority of them never leave. They aren’t allowed to, “grow up”.
Say It Isn’t So!
When discussing discrepancies in the Bible, that book that we follow with all the passion of legalism while denying we are legalistic, there is no lack of evidence. We must remember that each individual writes from their memory and the details will often conflict with one another. The robe that Jesus wore is listed as either white, purple or red, depending on which gospel you read it in. (Matthew 27:28; John 19:2,5; Luke 23:11)
Who, or What is THE “Word of God”?
Jesus refers to the “word of God” when speaking to the Pharisees in Mark 7:13 in reference to their using their traditions to make the purpose of the word of God, “null and void”. What He was talking about in this scripture was that God wanted the widows, orphans and the poor cared for. He wanted children to honor their parents by caring for them when they were old and feeble.
The Pharisees were condemning Jesus and His disciples for not washing their hands. Jesus flipped the situation and pointed to the fact that these Pharisees were so focused on their traditions that they had added to God’s laws and ignored the heart of their meaning. They left out love and mercy.
Text can be Manipulated to Serve a Purpose
Corban was a tradition of vowing one’s finances for temple use, but this became a sneaky way of saying they didn’t have the finances to care for their parents. Jesus was letting these Pharisees know that the “word of God” which was the established law, had been changed so much by them that it did not carry out God’s original intent.
Word of God, Words of God
This reference to the word of God was more of the written law. In Luke 3:2, the “word of God” that came to John was an utterance and not referring to written scripture. In Luke 4:4, this was again a reference to utterance as this was an actual scriptural reference by Jesus to the devil. This was a quote about living by the “words of God”.
In Luke 5:1, the people pressed in to hear Jesus speak and his speaking was called, “the word of God”. Again in Luke 8:11 in the parable of the sower, Jesus refers to the “seed sown” as the “word of God” or the spoken word. In Luke 8:21, Jesus said that his mother and brothers were those that “hear” the word of God and do it. Again the reference is to the spoken word.
Luke 11:28 says, “Blessed are they that “hear” the word of God and keep it”. In Acts 4:31, the disciples of Christ (more than the eleven left) spoke the “word of God” with boldness. What were they speaking? It surely was not primarily the Old Testament, but Christ. The Old Testament examples would merely point to the realities of Christ. In Acts 6:7 (and in Acts 12:24, 19:20), an interesting statement occurs: “And the word of God increased”.
This declaration allows us to see that “scripture” are words inspired every day by those who express Christ. Just as always, the individual person must follow God by faith.
Before There Were Bibles
In more than one instance in the book of Acts, we see the report that Gentiles or Samaritans or others received the “word of God”. Interesting to note that firstly we hear that “faith comes by hearing” which means that one must hear the spoken word to build their faith. Secondly, Romans 10:9,10 records how one must believe and then vocally confess to receive Christ. The spoken word often precedes the written word.
In Acts 15:7 the comment is about the “word of the gospel”, which is what they preached. In Acts 20:32, it is referred to as the “word of his grace”.
The word of God has not changed its focus, and we must remember that it is and always has been about relationship. It is about a separation that occurred between God and His creation and the subsequent action he took to restore that relationship.
NOT LAW BUT GRACE
This could be argued that it was referring to the spoken scriptural text as well and that is a valid argument. The problem comes in when we consider that the disciples had walked off the page when it came to the declaration of the law. They were now “living epistles to be read of all men” according to the New Testament. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Writers write from the standpoint of their understanding, experience and memory.
The written word is the spoken word written down. The spoken word is the Word of God and the written word is its record. When you make this distinction, the “Word of God” explodes far beyond the bible and is heard every day in hearts around the globe. It becomes released from the limitations man has placed upon it and is now something that we must listen for, discern and follow on an individual basis. Gone is the ability of man to control through written text when man understands that you can find God in the bible but the bible is NOT God. We become as free as we were meant to be.
Please check out my friend Keith Giles Here.
I would love to hear from you!
Kimberly is an ordained minister who was a senior pastor and involved in ministry for over thirty years. She lived in Africa and traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, hosting conferences to groups in the thousands. She left organized religion to pursue a life of faith and faithfulness.
Available short stories on Kindle for $1.37 each:
Not My Daughter!: A story too good to tell
Diedre: What I learned when my son chose a girl
For Nicholas: An encounter with the parents of Nicholas that changed our perceptions
The Needs Of The One: An encounter with a schizophrenic man that touched my soul
Farm Lessons: Life and Death lessons are every day on a farm
You can find her on Facebook where she posts under “PK Langley”