and the Grass Burrs won.
Recent rains mean the churchyard grass is due a good mow. But before that, I realized last night, I could pull ALL the grass burrs that were going to seed and stop their proliferation.
I started last night ( arriving early for a meeting, I had some time on my hands). I picked up this morning where I had left off. I pulled quite a few of those lawn mines, and was feeling pretty good about myself.
But they just kept coming. The more I pulled, the more I saw. But they’re just grass burrs! Do grass burrs even have a brain? They best they could do to fight back was grab at my fingers, but these were still green; they didn’t even hurt all that much!
Then, with visions of victory flooding my mind, I deposited another handful in the bag, returned to the battlefield, and started again.
And there was another whole section of them! As if they had gone to seed during my brief visit inside!
I gave up and moved on to the list of Other Things I Came to the Office for This Morning.
And as I walked inside, I was reminded of this:
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered.
“The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’
29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvesttime I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.” ’” (Matthew 13, CEB)
It’s as if Jesus knew the way we thought!
And I don’t think it’s really about weeds.
I just can’t take it anymore. The next time I hear someone say “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship,” well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but I won’t remain silent any more.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said this myself! I’ve said lots of things. only some of them have been recorded.
But I’m a paid religious professional. You could assume I am responding defensively. I don’t think that’s it.
This last time I heard the “relationship, not religion,” talk, a few days ago from a Christan band member at a concert, I finally realized what’s wrong with the comparison.
They’re getting religion wrong.
The word “religion” occurs famously one and only one time in the Bible. That’s once in the King James Version, the NIV adds a few more. But the KLV, NIV, and NRSV all agree that James 1:27 includes the word “religion,” and the verse – I’ll share the NRSV – says this:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
The band man – I didn’t catch from the video exactly who was speaking, defined religion as being about rules and laws and guilt and shame.
If that’s religion, I’m against, it too!
Oddly, the same person who prefers to think of being a Christian as about relationship, not religion, recognizes that relationships can be harmful, but not that religion can be good.
Maybe he hadn’t read James?
That’s more likely than that he is opposed to caring for widows and orphans and learning to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Will the Bible survive?
The short answer is “Yes.” I have confidence it will.
Not everyone agrees. Here’s a quote from a book I am reading:
the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is the “actual word of God, to be taken literally, word for word” has declined remarkably: In 1963, 65% believed this, but that figure is now at 32%.
For some, even 65% is disheartening. I have to admit, I’m not excited about 32%.
On the other hand, I read the whole quote. Did you catch it? The question equates belief that “the Bible is the actual word of God” with “taking it literally, word for word.”
Seems pretty obvious to me that the entire Bible is not meant to be taken “literally, word for word.”
When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” (John 6:35) he didn’t mean he was an actual loaf of bread.
In Psalms 17, 31, 36, 57, 61, 63, and others, the psalmist writes of taking shelter under God’s wings. He didn’t mean God is literally a bird!
There are plenty of other references throughout the Bible. I have no need to present an exhaustive list, because it really only takes one to make my point: the Bible is not intended “to be taken literally, word for word.”
But however sure I am the Bible isn’t to be taken literally word for word, I am even more convinced it is the “actual word of God.”
See what I mean?
The Bible will survive. Some of the ways we think about the Bible won’t. That may be a good thing.
Once upon a time, I was handed an egg, two matches, and a paper cup full of water. Since this was early in the morning and I was on a campout which I knew was designed to test some of my skills and adaptability, I knew it was breakfast.
I wouldn’t have guessed one could boil an egg in a paper cup of water, but I did. Then I ate breakfast.
While that morning I was pretty sure what do do with what I was handed, I am often confused, or at least unsure, what to do with what I’m handed.
I mean, of course, things I am handed figuratively more than literally.
I am, like you are, probably, bombarded with claims and memes and “facts” about this or that. Some of them are true, actual, and valid, some of them are not.
What I really wonder, though, when such things are shared, is “What am I supposed to do with this?
You might ask the same thing of me. That’s only fair.
Here’s what I want when I share something with you, or give something to you: a reaction, a response; interaction. What do you think of this? Do you agree? why or why not?
If you have any doubt, please feel free to ask me: “What am I supposed to do with this?”