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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sounds Good


I was in a chat room recently where a Christian was making comments that I found a bit disturbing...I told myself not to overreact since oftentimes real meaning is lost in the speed and abreviations of internet chat. Yet the more this person "said", the more uneasy I became. It's not that the words were particularly alarming, but the message was incorrect.

For example, one of the statements paraphrased a verse in the Bible to make a point, but it was taken out of context to "fit" the person's point of view. I see this over and over. As Christians we need to handle God's Word accurately.

2 Tim 2:13 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. the NIV says: "...who correctly handles the word of truth."

Often we hear statements that "sound good". We need to be very careful to ensure they actually "are good". Millions are erroneously following after the new-age Oprah type religion because it "sounds good". By the same token we must not, as Christians, fall into the temptation of slanting God's Word to fit our politics.

Mrs. CP and I were in a chat room recently where I commented to her that I had mixed feelings about the Supreme Court ruling regarding the death penalty for child rapists. My instinct is that death is too merciful for these guys...but is that what the Bible says? Thanks to Mrs. CP who pointed me to the book of Leviticus; I have not yet completed my study on the topic, but when I finish I will have an opinion that is grounded in God's Word.

We should apply this attitude to the way we react to the daily headlines as well. How many times have you heard religious leaders interpret natural disasters as either God's wrath, or as a sign of the end times? I read an article a while back that quoted a prominent religious leader who stated that earthquakes are on the increase as was predicted in the Bible. Well when the facts were researched, it turns out that earthquakes are actually decreasing in frequency and intensity. When I point this out to Christians they often are shocked and offended. My point here is not to dispute that we may be in the end times...my point is that we need to be sure our words are accurate.

This is why I rarely (if ever) forward those cute little Christian stories we have all received via email. You know, the ones where the woman wasn't attacked because the attacker saw 2 angels walking with her, or where the atheist college professor dares God to stop the dropped piece of chaulk from hitting the floor. While these stories may be true to the letter, I do not forward them unless I can know for sure they are authentic. I want my testimony to be true.

Remember a couple of years ago how excited everyone got when the ancient bone box of James the brother of Jesus was "found" in Israel? I too got excited and forwarded that article to a lot of people. But when the truth was told months later that the box was a fake, I made sure to inform all the people I had emailed of the truth.

You might say, well, so what if the college professor story isn't true, maybe someone gained faith from it. Think about that logic for a minute. Would you honestly want to use "legend" to bring someone to faith in God? The Bible tells us to let OUR light shine before men. I can testify to my own story about the miracles God has done for me, since I am an eye witness to them. Please do not misunderstand, I love hearing about miracles, I really do; but we must be sure to be beyond reproach in what we communicate.

I was reading an old article about televangelist Benny Hinn who made a statement that he had gone to a hospital and healed large numbers of people in one day. When researchers tried to confirm the story it appears to have been a complete lie.


So while the story of Hinn healing all those people "sounds good" -- and who knows? Maybe it is the way Benny Hinn remembers it happening. But in the light of the truth the story dishonors Hinn's testimony and does not bring honor to Jesus Christ.

So my encouragement to the readers and to myself is to:

1. Speak the truth.

2. Pray that God shows what His Word really means and don't super impose your politics on scriptures taken out of context.

3. Avoid judging others (i.e. "Obama is going to hell." He may very well be going to hell but that is not for us to judge.)

4. Think about your own testimony. You are an eye witness to wonderful things God has done for you. No one has your experiences but YOU. I'll bet you they are more miraculous than the emails you recieve!