Do you ever experience those moments where a book you’re reading, a Bible study you’re doing, and a sermon to which you’re listening collide?
I experienced exactly this last weekend, as I completed my lesson in Beth Moore’s Jesus the One and Only, listened to our pastor preach, and finally finished Elizabeth Esther’s memoir, Girl at the End of the World. When God grabs my attention like that, it usually means he’s trying to make a point. And sometimes that means I have to write. The words come flying off the tips of my fingers. I can’t stop them.
This, my friends, is one of those moments.
If you only read one of my posts, let this be the one. Not because I’m some stellar writer who possesses vast amounts of wisdom (I’m human, after all), but because this subject matter is important. Very important.
Saturday afternoon I opened my Beth Moore Jesus the One and Only study and turned to Luke 17:1-5. You’re probably familiar with the first three verses.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.” Luke 17:1-3a
When we cause others to sin, Christ takes it seriously. I like the way Beth Moore puts it.
He appears to be saying, If you have entrapped a weaker, more vulnerable person in sin, you’re going to wish you had drowned in the deepest sea rather than deal with Me.
Ouch. We must know the Word, so we don’t cause others to sin.
As a church, we were studying 1 Corinthians 11: 2-3. Our pastor had just finished making his point that Jesus is our Ultimate Authority when he stopped to make a side point.
He said (and I’m paraphrasing, as I can’t possibly take notes quickly enough to get an exact quote) that we (Christians) need to turn to scripture as our authority. That we need to double-check what he and our other pastors (and any Bible teachers) say against what the Bible says, because our pastors aren’t the ultimate authority, but God is.
Amen! I don’t think I could ever attend a church that didn’t believe exactly that. Our pastors, as much as they are to be respected, are human. And that means occasionally they will make mistakes.
We must know the Word, so that we are not led astray, even inadvertently.
This is where it all came together for me – when the immense responsibility we Christians bear for knowing what God really says in the Bible pierced my heart.
I read Girl at the End of the World, Elizabeth Esther’s memoir, in just two days – Saturday and Sunday. Perfect timing.
I’m not a regular reader of Elizabeth Esther’s blog, and in case you’re not either, here’s the gist of the story. Elizabeth grew up in a cult – The Assembly. Led by her grandfather and father, Elizabeth’s environment was one of twisted scripture and manipulation.
As an adult, she got out of the cult, but understandably still has issues with the church and her relationship with God.
I have to tell you, I was in tears reading this book. Elizabeth was one of “these little ones,” and the authority figures in her life manipulated scripture to justify things God never intended. Beatings. Fear. Repenting in front of human “authority” until the authority deemed said repentance to be authentic.
This is the stuff that makes my stomach turn.
Now, I’m not at all blaming Elizabeth for what she went through. How could I? But perhaps if the adults in her life had known the Word, rather than just blindly playing follow the leader, her life, and the lives of others in the cult, would have turned out differently. My heart hurts for Elizabeth Esther and for the many others who have walked in her shoes.
I’m sure nobody in the cult, save maybe the leader, really wanted to hurt anyone. But hurt is exactly what happens when scripture is twisted and manipulated to suit human desires.
Certainly, a cult is an extreme example of manipulation of scripture, but misusing the Bible occurs every day, in both big and small ways.
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
Know the Word
And this is why we need to know the Word for ourselves. Don’t rely on your pastor. Don’t rely on your Bible study teacher, even if she is Beth Moore. And don’t even think about relying on me. God is the only 100% certain author of Truth.
Don’t be the manipulator. Don’t be manipulated. Know the Word.