AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Lisa Goddard
Several mornings a week, I gather six, seven, maybe even eight ingredients and “concoct” what I think is going to be a nutritious smoothie. There’s a veggie, a couple of fruits, flax seeds, fresh ginger, some kind of protein, cinnamon and coconut milk. I blend everything for 30 seconds or so, not always knowing what it will taste like, but hoping that the combo will result in something that’s good for my body.
On Sunday, Jordan referenced the human and often Christian tendency to use a kind of a “blender method theology” when it comes to our image of who God is. Mix a lot of things together, and that image can be distorted. We can choose certain scriptures about God, spiritual comments from others and world religious views to fit our particular definitions or justify a decision, opinion or behavior. This resonated with me, and not just as a smoothie maker! I have often done a little Bible verse “cherry picking” to make a thought or judgment about God seem appropriate or reasonable, self-selecting the words to fit what I think seems right.
Whew, talk about pride! I was reminded, while listening to Jordan‘s message, that it’s not so much about mastering the information in the Bible, but letting it fill us.
“Christians don’t simply learn or study or use scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus‘ name, hands raised in adoration of the father, feet washed in company with the Son.” Eugene Peterson
The Bible can be a primary source of clarity, but also confusion. We struggle to reconcile the disparate images of God depicted in the Bible and need to realize that scripture is not always as clear as we want it to be. We all interpret the Bible differently, but the bottom line is to let Christ on the cross be the cipher, the key to understanding the word of God and who God is.
God spoke to us through his son Jesus, and while the words we read in the Bible guide us, the Bible is not the point, but rather, what points us to Jesus. What lies within those beautiful scriptures should be held up to the lens of what God, through Jesus, says about us and how we should live our lives.
Too often, I seek affirmation and approval from lesser images, those that the “world” might deem worthy. We were created in the image of God, and Jesus invites to return home to Him so we can reflect back His image to the world.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, s whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:15-20
False pictures of God are the essence of our bondage. These distorted portrayals can lead us to certain behaviors through fear, anger or shame. Our hope is in Jesus, not the world.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and encouragement they provide, we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
I am encouraged when I reflect and remember that God is kind, humble, welcoming, servant-hearted, and most importantly, loving. Now, that’s a good blend, one that I know will give me a healthy dose of the true living God.