As I sit here and type these words to each one of you, I’m preparing to teach through a difficult passage of Scripture to a large group of women tonight in California. What do I mean by difficult? Well, let me put it this way.
You know those passages in Scripture that just give you the warm fuzzies? Those verses that just make you feel good inside? We love those, right? As we should! Verses like John 3:16, Romans 8:31, and Philippians 4:13. If you’re not super familiar with God’s Word, just read through these verses below, and I’ll bet you that you have heard them numerous times before.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NIV)
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Starting to sound familiar to you? These are commonly quoted, referenced, and even tattooed verses in the Bible. And for many believers in Christ, these and a few others are sometimes the only portions of Scripture that are known. I like to refer to this as wall art faith or bumper sticker theology. It’s the idea that there is this very real temptation to cling to that which makes sense to us and makes us feel really good, but there is a natural tendency to avoid that which makes us uncomfortable or would require us to change.
Here’s the reality though. ALL of God’s Word is inspired. All of God’s Word was “breathed out by God and is useful…” (2 Timothy 3:16) Never once in Scripture does God promise us that ALL of His Word will be palatable to us, that it all will always taste good going down. He says it is ALL good. It is ALL useful, beneficial, necessary, and inspired.
So, what do we do with the portions that don’t sit as well with us? Well, let me offer some of the options I’ve most frequently seen. The first is that we avoid them. If we don’t like what it says or don’t understand it, we just stay away from it, which ultimately is a refusal to live by it. An avoidance of Scripture is no less than a refusal to abide by it. Some of us, however, take it to the next step where we not only avoid it, but we entirely reject its authority. If we don’t like what it says for whatever reason, we throw it out with thoughts or words that most often sound something like this: “How could a loving God act that way?” Or, “Why would a good God do that?”
Here’s the deal, though. God’s Word is not a buffet. We do not maintain the right nor the authority to determine which parts of it are true. We do not get to pick and choose the parts we want to live by, because one day, when each one of us stands before a Holy God, we will be held accountable to every word of His Word, not only the parts we chose to embrace. God is an all or nothing God. He’s not after the semi-devoted or half-hearted follower. He wants us to be all in. Read it for yourself in Revelation 3:15-16:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Can we all just agree that this is a pretty significant passage of Scripture that we should be fully aware of if we would call ourselves Christ followers? I mean, it doesn’t get more clear than this, does it? God is literally saying here, “Wishy-washy, half-hearted, one foot in and one foot out Christians make me vomit.” Whoa.
As I read through each of these verses and as I ponder the character of God as revealed to us in His Word, I can’t help but ask the question, “What kind of Christian am I?” Am I the type of Christian who fully submits myself to the ENTIRE counsel of God’s Word, or am I the type of Christian who picks and chooses the parts that I want to live by? God is after the former. Let’s make no mistake about that. God wrote a book, and He didn’t misspeak or mess up in any way in it. He Word is complete, it is good, and every part is necessary and for our good.
As a generation of Christ followers, could we move away from the “warm fuzzies” type of faith, and choose to be all in believers? Could we be a generation that is marked by obedience and submission to God’s Holy and inspired Word? Could we be humble enough to see that human intellect and interpretation is not nor will it ever be above God’s? God is God, and we are not. He sets the standard by which we are to live, not us and not this world.
Let’s start walking in truth, friends.