Imagine trying to pay for your purchases with one sided coins?! “What a foolish question” you may be remarking! As absurd as it sounds, we often do the very same thing – perhaps not in terms of literally using a one sided coin, but in our daily life choices!
Some things are inseparable. Yet we separate them to drive a point home or due to the circumstances. For example, we repeat certain experiences and we omit vital information in an attempt to cut a long story short as most of us are so busy with our rat race lifestyles. We don’t have the time (or perhaps make the time is the more accurate wording) to hear people out. Instead we blow kisses in the air, raise formal “how are you?” questions and keep walking on without even waiting to hear the answers. We walk on pins and needles totally rushed as the weight of the world lies on our shoulders. (Ahem… do we realize that Jesus Christ died on that cross for us, and has taken our yokes upon Himself?). Yet when the other person has misrepresented the story by cutting it shorter so that the busy bees can go along their merry own ways, the busy bees get into a tiff and ‘sting’.
Communications courses would teach us to rephrase what you are hearing and repeat it to the person speaking to clarify that you have heard right. Often we are in such a hurry that we don’t listen properly resulting in wrongly perceived information and thus a harsh judgmental word that hurts the speaker.
How often do we pause to check whether we are giving only one side of the coin?
Not only is this limited to our conversations with each other, we do this so much with Scripture verses too. With a good heart, we aim to use media / technology to spread God’s Word. Text messages, emails, FB statuses, calendars… which is awesome as we are loving God with all our heart, soul and mind as well as using the resources He has blessed us with, to glorify His Name and expand His Kingdom. However, sadly we tend to misrepresent Him in the process too.
“A text out of context is pre-text”
There are a number of ‘blanket’ statements in the Bible. The context and the conditions and the background don’t make a difference. Using them for a daily verse is fine. However a number of the scriptures that promise a blessing come with a condition attached. People demand the blessing overlooking the condition as the daily verse didn’t include the condition.
Most of Scripture is written in specific situations. We need to understand the context and learn more about God and what the biblical characters did right or wrong… and then apply the learnings to our current situation and context. Of course how God responds and His nature will never change. The fact is it is wrong to proclaim a verse out of its context. Jesus spoke the truth yet it was coupled with grace. The Bible and thus the life of a Christian should be just that – the coin of the two sides TRUTH and GRACE.
When we drive a point home with one verse and neglect the other sides to that topic elsewhere in the Bible, we are taking away from God’s Word. We represent a LEGALISTIC view and make people feel condemned and guilty. Well, that’s what the enemy does! Are we willing to watch out and not be a vessel of the enemy? Vessels of the Living God represent the truth in love and extend grace as grace comes by the work of Jesus on the cross. For example, we highlight verses condemning divorce. Yes, what God has joined together we should not separate. However, how do we know that the marriage was from God in the first place? Did God Himself not condemn inter-faith marriages? Did He Himself not separate them? Does Scripture not give grounds to divorce – such as unbelieving partner leaving or on the basis of adultery? Do you think God would love to see His children being beaten up by their spouses for the sake of not dissolving a marriage?
Doesn’t God repetitively command His children to stand up for righteousness and stand up against oppression? Isn’t God a God of second chances? Hasn’t He given you many second chances – if not in this area in other areas? (Well, I know for sure that I’m so grateful for His grace because that’s how I can be a follower of Christ – I know I err and stumble much along the way!!) Wasn’t the concept of not permitting divorce brought about to safeguard and protect women in the first place? This is just one of many many topics that we misrepresent by quoting scripture out of context. Aren’t hypocrisy, selfish ambition, greed, envy – sins that we commit on a daily basis a part of the fleshly nature? Then why do we automatically assume grace and second chances for these instances and not for the victim of an oppressive marriage let alone for an adulterer? God relented when people repented and made a U-turn in their lives yet again by His grace, mercy and leading!!
There are many people out there struggling to forgive themselves for a sin / mistake of the past. When they see legalistic verses, it adds to the condemnation. Those who condemn will happily take these verses and point fingers – in the process we are pushing away those who are longing to embrace Christ – who long for His grace and mercy and ever lasting love.
Conviction is different from condemnation..
Let’s remember that TRUTH and GRACE go hand in hand, and not separately…
Jesus is the blemish free sacrificial lamb as much as He is the Lion of Judah!!!
We will stumble along the way – but let’s be grateful that God upholds us in His Righteous Right hand… that if we yield to Him, He forgives and gently nudges to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit… Arms that are stretched wide which make us long to be holy… God doesn’t see the appearances but He sees our hearts and the motives and the tears…
Be refreshed by His enveloping embrace!