I am sure that there are times when it appears that I have stepped outside appropriate boundaries for communicating the faith, yet faith knows no boundaries and in fact is a walk into darkness with only the revelation of God’s Spirit as our light and the confidence of God’s love as our guide.
I recall seeing an anonymous quote recently that went something like this: “Faith is stepping into the unknown, into a place of darkness where all that we know has ended and expecting to find footing provided and if not, we simply learn how to fly!” True faith leads to freedom, not some draw back in fear or retreat to those things we have been told but never experienced for our selves. That’s living someone else’s life and not finding your own.
Yet, my life has been served well by the guidance of scriptures, a boundary of sorts, which provides a footing as one begins to open oneself to the voice of the Spirit, true revelation. The text alone cannot provide this, even if totally memorized. Sure scriptures provide comfort, and are indeed used by the Spirit to guide our lives through dark moments.
Nowhere is it my intent to contradict scripture or to challenge its inerrancy, for when the scriptures are applied as intended, read in openness toward the Spirit of God, they speak into our lives a relevant message from God for this day. Otherwise, the text becomes a barrier against growth, a means of sustaining the past, holding on to culture and comfort, dimming the very light needed in an ever changing world.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” In this brief statement, Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) offers a rich snapshot of the power of the Word of God. Yes, it is living and active, its message enduring the ages; and yet a mystery in that though it never changes, what it speaks to every individual is dependant on the context of the life moment in which the scripture is read. I say this not from some seminary experience, only parroting what another respected academician had to offer, but from forty years of reading and walking within the Word. I am a believer.
Yet, this mysterious living writ can come to error when men attempt to restrain the living Word, guarding its text as sacred while secretly harboring selfish agendas or blindly following other men. Can the church error in its use of the Word? That was apparent in reformation history and from the biographies of men like John Huss and Dietrich Bonheoffer.
Protecting the text as a means of preserving a culture, we can prevent the revelation that sustains the very essence of that active, living word.
Those who move away from revelation and relationship with the Spirit only foster the religious and lay the foundation for the persecution and pain that eventually tears away at our best institutions and makes reformation, even revolution the more necessary.
The paradox is that revelation is ever changing, but God is ever the same. It’s the approach to Him that changes. First the Law, then the Incarnation, then Pentecost and now His Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven. The problem, is not knowing the way, for God has made that clear, it’s finding our way to the Way.
Show us the Father…”if you have seen me…”, the Jesus of the manger…vulnerable; the Jesus at the wedding feast… joyful & fun; the Jesus at the well… forgiving; the Jesus in the temple… defending a God of relationship over man-made law and religion; then on the water… triumphing over the storms of life and nature; finally breakfast on the shore, “…you have seen the Father.”
We so mar revelation when we try to guard it. God needs no protector, He is God!