Defining Terms as Tiny Gods
How can one say they love God, yet hate His word?
One of the major issues of our time is the need in our discussions to define the terms of the words that we are using in our discussions. When we are carrying on a conversation about such and such a topic, if we want people to understand us clearly, which obviously we do if we want communication to be effective, then we find with the current temperature of the climate of our society is the need to define our words.
For example, if I were preaching a sermon to a group of people and I used the term “love,” I would of necessity have to pause in my preaching or maybe at the outset, take the time to teach just exactly what is meant by the word “love.” When I use such a word, there will be a group of people who believe it means A, a group of people who believe it means B, and then others who claim that it means C. This is not because we have become an illiterate society but because we have become a relativistic society. And the perplexing thing about it all, is that if your understanding of the word conflicts with someone else’s, then you are NOT at liberty to say so. Even if one’s definition is entirely inaccurate, we have become so supersensitive to having our autonomy challenged that we are very easily offended when our presuppositions are questioned in any way, shape, or form. The days of healthy debate by which we can grow and learn from one another have all but ceased. We have become for the most part, unteachable.
The reason for this is that in our pride, we have made ourselves out to be little gods by which we cause our world to spin. We have bought the lie that the individual has the ability in and of themselves to create their own reality. Furthermore, this reality that we tell ourselves we have created is built upon the premise that it is beyond the challenge of any outside influence unless we, the individual, first allow it into our tiny universe which we actually believe is as large as the Milky Way. Unless an outside influence is agreeable with the world we have created, then it is immediately rejected as a threat to our creation. In fact, often it is not only rejected but it becomes the source of warfare by which we must eradicate the idea before it can gain any momentum to influence change in our minds or hearts.
In this we see that our society has fallen into the devil’s snare where we have become a humanistic people operating upon the principle of relativism where we elevate self-governance and self-existence and self-pleasure above God’s absolute truth. This has been the plot and plan of the devil from the beginning. In the Garden of Eden we find the serpent challenging the truth of the spoken word of God in the heart and mind of Eve when he asked her the question, “Indeed, has God said…?” And his tactic was effective. Again we see the same plan of attack being played out thousands of years later, this time the object of his attack being the Son of Man in the wilderness. Although on the surface it appears that the devil was quoting scripture, upon closer examination we find that it was incomplete and therefore, inaccurate. Of course, the One who is the Word and became flesh and dwelt among us saw right through his scheme and retaliated by accurately quoting the word of God. His strategy was to rely on the full truth of the revealed, authoritative word which effectively caused the devil to depart.
The challenge that has been presented to us by the devil in our epoch of time has not changed. Unfortunately, it seems as though we have already for the most part taken the bait. I wish I could say that this poison has been swallowed only by the secular society around us. We would expect nothing less from a fallen, self-righteous, egotistical society, right? But when we look to the beloved church of God, we find that the foundations are being eroded by the torrent of this relentless wave which is causing the house to hang precariously upon the edge of the cliff, ready to tumble into the sea. Why has this happened? It is quite simple, actually, if you look to the words of scripture. Jesus clearly warned us of this situation when He illustrated for us our two options – build a house on the sand or build a house on the rock. I believe it is safe to say that for many who claim to have built their house on the rock, they are going to be shocked to find out that the reality of it is that they have mistakenly built upon sand; hence, the erosion and imminent destruction.
If we take the illustration of Jesus further, we need to ask ourselves, spiritually speaking, what is the fundamental difference between the two foundations that constitutes one being sand and the other rock. Sand can sometimes imitate rock, but we need to be able to tell the difference. It can be well packed and of a crystalized nature that gives it the appearance of rock and only once you take the effort to dig into it do you realize that it is something less than solid. But in a practical, fundamental, spiritual sense that applies to our condition, what is the difference? It is truth. Sand may give the appearance and may have some characteristics that at first glance may fool us into thinking it is rock but it lacks the binding qualities of solid stone. Have you ever put stock in something that promised a good return in the future and only after a certain amount of time has gone by you realized that you had been bamboozled because you believed in something that lacked substance? I believe many are going to be awakened to the fact that they have invested poorly in a pseudo truth that looked right, felt right, smelled right, but eventually crumbled away from underneath them like shifting sand. The question is how great will the fall of these houses be when the torrent finally undermines once and for all the weak foundation of self.
We find that truth has become something that we feel is up to the individual to determine. Furthermore, we find that this truth is found within the individual. Whether it be our upbringing, education, experiences, behavior, they are all the building blocks that are thought to be necessary for the individual to create their own universe. Instead of looking to a non arbitrary Principle that transcends our education, experience, and behavior, people claim that their own unique set of circumstance allow them to create their own truth. Instead of defining the terms based on a transcendent Truth, we base our decisions and choices upon capriciousness and man-made wisdom. If we are to abandon the house that is ready to fall into the sea (yes, I believe abandonment is the only possible option although it sounds radical), and move into a new structure that will never be threatened with destruction from the waves of fleeting human wisdom, we must return to absolute truth.
But what standard exactly do we use that is universal upon which we can all agree? This is the extremely frustrating and, unfortunately, sensitive process where we must begin our conversations by defining what we mean. In our current relativistic society, although we may all speak the same language employing the same words, we all use a different dictionary. Returning to our example of the word “love,” for instance, it is common to hear in our houses of worship that we need to stop being judgmental and instead, just love people. In this scenario we actually find that our battle becomes doubly complicated because now not only do we need to come up with a truthful, accurate definition for “love” but also for the word “judgmental.” The popular definition circling around churches as well as the world, is that if one confronts another person and offers correction for their behavior, then it is defined as a situation where the one doing the confronting is being judgmental and should mind his own business because pointing out someone’s shortcomings is unloving. This of course is the silliest thing ever which flies in the face of simple logic and understanding. If a person is driving down a road where the bridge has been removed for construction purposes, offering a tragic end if they continue driving down that road, is it unloving for the road construction department to put up a sign saying, “Warning! Bridge Out!” Is it judgmental to tell that driver that they will total their car and possibly lose their life if they continue driving down that dead end road? Anyone with even a small amount of sense would answer no, it is wise and prudent to warn drivers of imminent destruction, in fact it is law. Unfortunately, we are not able for some reason to use the same logic in the church even though it pertains to matters of eternal consequences.
Well, it isn’t for “some reason,” it is precisely because we have taken it upon ourselves to elevate ourselves to the level of tiny gods, believing that we have the right and ability to create from ourselves our own universe with its own set of rules that govern nature and life. This is insanity.
If we are going to move into that beautiful mansion prepared for us by the Lord that is built upon the rock where winds and waves may come but never threaten its demise, we have to return to a standard of truth that is outside of ourselves. A standard that cannot be manipulated and twisted into something that our sinful natures too easily agree with. Something that transcends our fallen nature and therefore, calls us upward and higher; to something that is far greater than anything our fallen minds can concoct within the witch’s cauldron of humanism.
Where will this transcendent truth come from? Who can we turn to for this universal standard? The answer is simple. God is the Standard. God is the Principle. God is the Truth. And He has spoken to us in a holy book. And this book can be known by the human mind and treasured in the human heart.
God, in His loving humility, has given us in His word a divine condescension called scripture. This divine condescension is a work of His grace by which we have words that carry to us divine truth. This grace is exemplified in the fact that He has spoken to us in a way that we as finite creatures can understand an infinite Creator. Furthermore, God in His providence has allowed His heavenly speech which has been collected in a single book to be obtained for as little as a few dollars in our wealthy society.
But once again, simply owning this book is not enough because the poison of the lie that we are tiny gods who have the audacity to doubt Truth rears its ugly head at this gracious revelation humbly given to us in human words. We find in our prideful autonomy that we feel the need as individuals to define the words of this book according to our insufficient understanding instead of by His Spirit who has been sent to teach us and to lead us into all the truth. Hence, as in our example, we arrive at the conclusion that love may not mean the same thing for everyone, and we find ourselves stubbornly still living in the house that is ready to fall into the sea because its foundation is crumbling away by the torrent of humanistic relativism.
We must humbly allow the Holy Spirit to wake us up to the reality of our imminent destruction; to warn us that the bridge is out and we must find another road to travel. The road is there. It is a heavenly road that transcends the path of our human understanding but at the same time has been graciously given in a way that we can understand because the Lover of our souls, the Lord God Almighty is the Author of it.
I heard it said by a preacher and pastor of a Christian church recently that the bible is too dangerous; it is like a double edged sword and too many people have been hurt by it. His suggestion was that we would be better off to limit its use in our relationships and interactions with others. As shocking as that may sound, even more shocking was the response of those who agreed with his proposition. But I wonder, if the word is limited, what will take its place? Obviously the tiny god will take up residence in each one of our hearts and minds if we are left unchecked by the Truth that transcends our tiny universe. My hope and prayer for those who would make such bold yet uneducated statements as well as those who would agree with them is that they wake up to the reality of the path they are walking down. For the words of Jesus have been written down for us by which He instructed us, saying,
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB95)