Understanding the difference between what God’s word says and what I want it to say is critical for the follower of Christ. Such sounds simple enough, especially since we have it in writing. So, whatever “I think” or “want to believe” is either biblical or it isn’t.
Simple enough, right – well maybe not.
For most followers, we, at least, begin with the premise that the Bible is indeed the final authority… period. But what happens when loved ones die who may have been lost but we desperately want to believe they are in heaven? Perhaps we ourselves have made a sinful choice about which God’s word is clear but now we sense the need for a "fresh interpretation" – one that accounts for the particulars that we feel in our case should also be considered.
We may remain cautious with these personal conflicts with scripture but, some are just too delicate, too painful, and too unthinkable for us to abandon. The final authority then becomes not what God has said but what I wish He had said. Our pain and fear of the unthinkable have begun to supersede what God has made clear and so God’s word as “the final authority” has become neither.
Once the emotional toxins have set in, loved ones who never cared about Christ are now with Him in glory, someone else’s spouse has become our latest gift from God, and the narrow way has become an interstate. We soothe our soul with notions such as “no one knows the heart” or “we are not supposed to judge” until we eventually reach critical mass wherein we now find more comfort in what we do not know (or don’t want to know) than in what God has so clearly promised.
None of this is necessary. Christ did not die on the cross in order to vindicate our decisions or to validate our notions but rather for the forgiveness of sin. Christ is now our advocate and intercedes for us before the Father. “Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). God freely offers grace and forgiveness but not endorsement.
So first, let’s leave the frightening unknowns in the hands of a loving and just God. Both people and problems are always better left in His hands than in ours. Secondly, when those whom we love, embrace that which is clearly contrary to biblical teaching, let’s pray for healing and deliverance. Normalizing or justifying their decisions will still leave them with the same emptiness that led them there in the beginning.
Finally, let's not edit but embrace the word of God. Emotionalism is where the certainty and peace of God's trustworthiness go to die. Let Him be God and when we sin, let Him be our Savior. When we cannot change outcomes, let Him be Lord of Lords. When loved ones are sick of soul, let Him heal.
For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
Ps. 33:4-5 (NIV)
Pastor Mike Snelgrove,