Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Biting Scriptural Sound Bites

Too often Christians throw Bible verses around like they are pieces of candy tossed from a parade float. We can probably name many that have been lobbed our way, as well as ones we’ve been guilty of flinging toward another.

It’s easier to shoot a scripture toward another than it is to come close enough to a person to hear the need of their heart. We are busy people, and quite frankly, often too busy to listen to one another. Our need for speed means that the verses or phrases we toss toward another often hit the person with such force that they feel more like an arrow inflicting a wound than a treat to encourage.

A person who suffered much damage due to the jealousy of another told me of the arrow shot his way when he sought to convey the depth of his hurt to another. Already suffering significant loss, he was given this “encouraging” word: You know, God is a jealous God.

Ask anyone who’s suffered the death of a loved one and you’ll likely hear an equally hollow “encouraging” word: They are in a better place; Time will heal your wounds; God is with you.

Maybe we need to learn to be silent, and simply be with one another. Our discomfort with silence and stillness causes us to wound others with our shallow sound bites. In fact, “shallow” is a good description of a faith that depends on scriptural candy instead of digging deeply into the meaning of God’s living Word in the person of Jesus, who is body and blood of God, not some irrelevant piece of sugar.

Reading scripture using Lectio Divina strips away the shallow interpretation and use of scripture. Lectio Divina is a prayerful sitting with scripture, allowing it to seep into us, challenge us and change us. Through the regular practice of Lectio Divina, we learn a reverence for the depth of God’s word to us that weans us from using it in trivial ways.

As we learn to be still with God’s word, we also learn to be still with God’s creation, with the hurting and confused who need our presence and love, not a scriptural sound bite. Instead of offering words, we offer ourselves, a living and holy sacrifice, flesh and blood, not the empty calories of scriptural candy.

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