Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BALANCING ACT: Rightly Dividing the Scriptures

These verses have always intrigued me, and, without going into detail, I've had to refer to them quite a bit lately. They have to do with human relationships and interaction...issues we all have to deal with every day. First, here's an excerpt from the intro to The Gospels In The Now which is pertinent to this:

The Bible is a miracle – not a book, but a collection of 66 books written by 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years in different languages to different people groups in different generations for different purposes. Therefore, the Scriptures must be rightly divided instead of wrongly connected. In other words, each book must be judged in its own context and on its own terms, whether it confirms any other book or not. In this way, biblical contradictions are not only acknowledged and accepted...they are expected. I celebrate the tension caused by the conflicting viewpoints of the writers who had different paradigms of God; their contradictions make the Bible literally pulsate with life! And amazingly, in spite of the given contention, the confirmation of Jesus, the Christ, is still the glue that holds the whole collection together!


Here Jesus tells His disciples to approach their relationships with the wisdom (mindset) of a snake (the symbol of satan), while maintaining the peaceful temperament of the dove (the symbol of the Holy Spirit)...

I say all of this to you because you need to know that I’m really sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves. And to be able to survive this hazardous work, you’re going to have to develop the flexibility to be wary and wise as serpents when necessary, and to still be innocent and guileless as doves. I realize that no two animals are less similar in temperament than a snake and a dove, so I’m really asking you to do the impossible.
(Matthew 10:16 - Matthew In The Now)


No doubt, these two passages are talking about two different things, but at first glance it appears that Jesus is telling us not to judge anyone/anything, while Paul is saying to judge everyone/everything!

But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
(1 Corinthians 2:15 - NKJV)

But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him].
(1 Corinthians 2:15 - Amplified Bible)

But Jesus says...

“Don’t set yourself up as a judge who takes the liberty of casually condemning others, or even as a critic who thinks that he or she has the right to criticize them, because when you do that, you set a universal law into motion that will inevitably bring negative things back into your own life. In other words, don’t judge so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For in direct proportion to your judgment, criticism and condemnation of others, you will be personally judged and criticized and condemned. It’s just the way the law works. And in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others…whatever you may deal out…it will be dealt out again to you. You define the terms of your own life in this sense. (Matthew 7:1, 2 - Matthew In The Now)


And what about this?

Then the disciples came up and asked Jesus, “Who, in your estimation, is really the greatest in the Kingdom of/from the heavens?” But instead of directly answering their question, He first called a little child over to Himself, and placed him in the center of the room, and once they had focused on the child, He said to them, “Boys, I really and truly want you to get this…unless you change the way you think about things…until your mind is cleansed from your cynicism and competitiveness with one another…until you have a paradigm shift that moves you from the silliness of being ‘childish’, so that you can enter the freedom of becoming ‘child-like’…and until you grasp the difference between these two concepts…you’re never going to be subjects in My Kingdom at all! Whoever will remove the mental clutter of adulthood, so that he or she can re-connect with what is the best part of childhood…the simple, basic ideas of trust…humility…love…forgiveness…imagination…that person will rank very high in the Kingdom of/from the heavens.
(Matthew 18:1-4 - Matthew In The Now)

But Paul says...

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. (1 Corinthians 14:20 - TNIV)

Again, I realize these Scriptures are referring to different situations, which is my point about "rightly dividing" as opposed to "wrongly connecting" passages. But the spirit of the letter is pervasive throughout all holy writ, and when it comes to human relationships, we find certain challenges in locating applicable Scriptures by which to live. We all want to walk in love, but we don't want to be taken advantage of. We want to believe for the best in people, without being naive to the darker side of human nature. We attempt to "know no man after the flesh", but it generally takes some real effort to look beyond the obvious humanity of someone and really see the divinity in him or her, especially when that person has used us or lied to us.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud about these's one more verse I find very interesting...

But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men]; And He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men's hearts.]
(John 2:24, 25 - Amplified Bible)'s a journey...


Northern Light said...

It is so easily seen and heard, when you show it as you do.

The last words you signed off with: "'s a journey".. has been exactly my life work these past several weeks of 2010 ~ and I'm not giving up. It's all worth it.

Northern Light

Anonymous said...

Got more questions than answers. Why is it when you're sailing along in a relationship, being harmless as a dove, that you get a piece of information that changes everything and you think, "where the hell has my 'wise as a serpent' self been?" Or you're sure you're being non-judgmental and a great benefactor to the world (or worse - you stupidly believe you are being RIGHTLY judgmental!), and when the situation turns out to be not what it seems, you hear your own pronouncements of judgement echoing in your brain?! Need to wrestle with this some more...

Karl said...

You brought it tonight at the service...thanks! I look forward to chewing on a few of those things over the next few days.

The connection between forgiveness and healing and then reaching into the supernatural reality and pulling something back into mine. That was good.

...and the way you give different analogies about what we already have in regards to forgiveness and salvation is always very helpful.

River said...

Last nights message hit it. The worst type of judgment is self judgment brought on by someone's idea of holy belief. Coming from a traditional upbringing I have heard it all, someone condemning another because they were holding hands yet in their own home things went further. What drives people to find fault with another? Are we so vain that we think we are the idea of perfection? Perfection is a state of mind not a reality. No one is that perfect and it is not up to us to judge. Judgement comes when we pass on to the next life and even then I feel we will not be judged because of what Jesus did on the cross. Three famous words IT IS FINISHED!!! I believe all will bow to him and all will be accepted. How great will this world be if everyone didn't judge?

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be Let it be Yeah
There will be an answer, let it be

By John Lennon

Anonymous said...

word verification is spersons.

That's what we are when we receive a word in the now and act on it with a pure heart; special persons.

I do like to see the rational side of things (as Paul said think like an adult). But when it effects my faith with the often accompanying doubt, then it is time to crawl up in Abba's lap and be encouraged. It does seem to me that walking after the Spirit involves finding balance between the ethereal and terrestrial. More often than not, when I perceive balance to be prevalent, heaven and earth are the same.

Perceiving oneself to have been used can be cause for elation when considering that you have asked God to use you. But if we are distracted then we may become jaded from wrongfully seeing the use as abuse. That may sound like it is easy to say. And it does become easy with practice.

What is really funny to me about myself is when I remember being used and resenting it and then remember not being used and resenting it. Can a person ever really be content with the state they are in? Well, only when they are special.

Johnny B

Anonymous said...

Mike Williams said...

If you seek, you will find.

Anonymous said...

Nonnie Lemmon said...

I appreciate those verses, Bish, and recognize the significance of balancing the Scriptures: rightly dividing vs. wrongly connecting. But, I've gotta admit, sometimes... it's just fun to mix 'em all up. And.. wouldn't it be a trip, if God dug that? Not out of mischief - just delighting myself in His Word. (does He say, "Aw...look...thinks she's gonna figure Me out; gotta love that.")

Remember when God led Ezekiel out to that valley - talked with him, there? I've wondered what would have happened to Job if he'd said Ezekiel's line. God: "Have you commanded the morning since your days, and caused the dayspring to know his place? Have you entered into the springs of the sea? Have you entered into the treasures of the snow? Can you number the clouds in wisdom? Can you hunt the prey for the lion?" Ezekiel: "Oh, Lord God, You know." Yes, understand the context about Jesus knowing what was in human nature - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Mankind must be made of some powerful stuff.

Anonymous said...

Reginald Sawyer said...

You are right Bis. Its hard to be harmless as a dove and wise as a serpant. Most of mankind takes kindness for weakness and then when you show them that they can't get over on you easily they want to fight to the death.

Relationships are a true journey...

Anonymous said...

Howard Blount said...

You are a genius! Love it!

Erik said...

Hi Bishop and Everyone,

Sorry I missed Wed night, sounds excellent. I am out of town.

What great paradigms to enjoy exchange on.

Doves and Serpents – The ‘Impossible’ (?) - It does take constant self awareness; wary and wise while guileless. So often we lean toward one or the other. Depending on our make, we want to trust more or be wary more. Both are important, while balanced, not so wary that trust is difficult, while no so trusting that wisdom is lost.

Solomon made a great choice with wisdom, because with wisdom one can be trusting while wary without damaging basic trust, trusting God and seeing God inside the humanity (fears and doubt with sublime grace and power) while aware of how fear and doubt can skew the grace and power. For Solomon, it went too far, the Eclesiastes ‘ouch’. I think, anchoring in the Dove helps keep the Snake a helpful servant. Of course, there are alternative views.

I do embrace what we dole to others will be doled out to us. The measure we use for others is the measure used for us. In my own life, I have chosen to use the broadest measure I can, and keep increasing it ‘cause I know I want the broadest measure for myself. In doing that, in my opinion, I can see, receive, focus on, the broadest good in others. There seems to be only so many things we can focus on in a day.

Since we may have 1 million inputs, and can focus on or define 5000, there are a lot of choices. That is where trusting, listening to the Holy Spirit comes in, at least for me. Sometimes I listen well, sometimes not so much.

The basic ideas, like a child, trust, humility, love, forgiveness, imagination. Regardless of rank, it is a whole lot more fun. Most daily actions of being ‘taken advantage of’ are the expressions of fears and doubts people have and to make up for them they find ‘power’ (which is really lack of it) in ‘taking advantage of others’. For the most part these are petty things. The extremely small percentage of what we may call ‘evil’ – intentional focused, manipulation and harm is not experienced by the vast majority of people.

Most people experience that muddled aspect of fear and hope, strength and weakness, mostly unconsciously registered by each of us.

That is why the basic ideas still hold. In the end, what is done by adults is the same things done by children (when in doubt and fear) and the same basic ideas apply.

I think.

Avatar said...

Oh my...relationships. Cain and Abel. Sheep and goats. Snakes and Doves. My neighbor and me. Children and Adults. God and us. Relationships.

I, too, love the journey...and I find that the dichotomies point to the message “Hang in there...with Me.”

I’m grateful that the Scriptures focus us on the wisdom of the serpents, since for the most part, unless you surprise them, they will first run from a threat, especially a human one. I’m grateful that the harmlessness of doves is chosen, since there is great harm in the mess they make, especially in groups, and is the reason many human walls are embedded with glass shards and spiky “don’t land HERE!” nails. Selah. I’m grateful because they make it clear what I’m to focus on in the comparison. For “think like a child, don’t think like a child”…that one’s a little harder.

Nonnie! "Aw...look...thinks she's gonna figure Me out; gotta love that." Yes! Amen. And I would like to add, “think she’s gonna figure this Love thing out?”

“It generally takes some real effort to look beyond the obvious humanity of someone and really see the divinity in him or her, especially when that person has used us or lied to us” … I agree and would add “or just hurt us”. And I agree with you Johnny, it does get a little easier as we go along. I’m glad that Jesus was able to do it…after sweating blood. That He was at least able to do the thing that He came to do. Though I’ve sometimes wondered if He thought the thing He came to do was gather (“oh how I’ve longed to gather you in my arms”) and over time learned what was in men’s hearts and saw the road to His cross.

Which brings me to the main thing I want to share. For me, the decision to be used or lied to or hurt is just that…a decision. I had to learn it…the serpent’s choices to harm in order to protect or flee or, since I’m human, go to my cross. Finding I have been lied to, used, hurt…I’ve learned to watch and listen to find out if I’m to move away or stay…and if its stay, where the path is…which brings me closer to Him…and THAT has made all the difference.

Izumi/JOY said...

Greetings, beloved Universe!

Avatar - thanks! (re: your add on... Lord God - He knows!)

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful for what I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Mary Nichelson said...

You are a danger to modern religion. A few minutes with you and all of that pre-programmed religious high pitched noise settles down and I actually understand verses. Sad since I am a preachers kid and been in church all my life! You are definately the balance the church needs.