By Vanessa Rasanen
My email seems to have become the electronic version of our snail-mail box — a frustrating and sad mess of junk mail and bills. I’ve spent months upon months unsubscribing and spring cleaning whatever mailing lists I’ve landed on — with one of my 3 (or is it 4?) addresses, but I’m still drowning in junkmail. So I might get a wee-bit excited when I see emails from friends.
Okay, those actually don’t happen very often.
It must be getting bad, because when I got a mass mailing from a fellow blogger I hadn’t heard from in a while, you wouldn’t believe how exciting that was. So maybe it had more to do with the obnoxious day I had managed to have by just 7:30am, but still. You would have thought it was a personal, individualized, catching-up email from a dear friend with how excited I got over it.
And then I read it.
“God told me to…” and “God wants me to…” and “God is pushing me to…”
Head… Meet desk.
Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve touched on this topic in conversations with friends. I’ve even had similar discussions with this particular blogger, which apparently did little good — reminding me, yet again, how wonderful it is others’ salvation isn’t resting on me and my ability to convince them of anything Christ-related. Because gah. I apparently suck at it. But, you know what they say about that whole leading horses to water thing.
Now, scripture alone (or sola scriptura for you fancier folk) is touted by many a friend of mine — and not just of the Lutheran sort. This is all fine and dandy and much better than say, I dunno, thinking God is telling you something in the way the sun’s rays peek through clouds or some nonsense like that. (No, really, that’s nonsense). But it seems quite popular to read scripture outside its main purpose and intent.
Let me be clear.
God’s Holy Word is not a fortune cookie for your life. It is no magic 8 ball. It is not a daily horoscope.
Now, you may be thinking “Pssssh. I would never treat it like that. That’s absurd.” But, I bet you have, maybe, at least once, at some point, because Old Adam loves to make connections and to feel like a special snowflake and assume every little coincidence is some secret message just for us.
For instance, your day sucks. A lot. So you reach for your bible — though, let’s face it, you might have really wanted that beer, instead. But you flip it open and read the first verses you come to. You read, and it’s as if it was divine will that your bible would land on that page at that time on this day. And you think, “WOW! God knew I needed that right now. He’s so timely and awesome.” What’s the problem, right? You’re looking to God’s Word. Not the clouds. Not rainbows. Not tea leaves. Scripture alone, eh? Eh?
No. Not quite.
Now, I’m not saying God can’t work that way. I’m saying, He hasn’t told us He will.
And where He hasn’t blatantly told us something, it’s usually — and by usually, I mean pretty much all the time — better to not assume.
Scripture, instead, is meant to provide us all we need so we may have faith in Christ Jesus, and therefore have eternal life and freedom from sin.
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:30-31 (ESV)
God doesn’t give us His Word so we can know what shirt to wear or what brand of peanut butter to buy. He doesn’t give us Holy Scripture so we can choose the right name for our blog. While we might be inspired by God’s Word for these things, He is not sending us secret, for-us-only messages to guide us toward the right decision.
Sure, scripture shows we should be good stewards, meaning it’s probably worthwhile to ensure we’re not wasting our family’s savings on expensive peanut butter if we can’t afford it. And scripture teaches us model behavior and morals, so let’s avoid stealing that peanut butter, ahem. It’s also probably safe to say God doesn’t want any of us choosing heretical names for our blogs… maybe. (There I go, assuming things after I said not to).
But seriously. If we choose some bit of scripture to use as a blog title, that’s our decision, not God leading us to that in some magical, mystical, magic-8-ball fashion. We might feel strongly that it’s a great, awesome, fantastic, amazing, God-glorifying name for a blog, but that doesn’t mean God told us to use it. Even if we feel like He told us that through scripture. Yes it’s good to look to God’s Word alone, rather than to outside, mystical mumbo-jumbo, but let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking we’re immune from letting mysticism creep into how we read His Word.
Scripture gives comfort — such comfort and joy — and teaches us God’s Law so we may know what is right and wrong. But for all the good deeds and good feels that may come from our looking to God’s Word, it all pales in comparison to the main purpose of that Word — to give us faith in Christ crucified (Romans 10:17), so that we may have eternal life in Him (John 20:31, yes, I’m citing it again…).
So, let’s abide in Holy Scripture and remain in our Bibles, not so we can feel better about our day-to-day decisions, convincing ourselves they are God-sanctioned (when, hello, they very well might not be — *cough*2nd commandment*cough*), but so that we may know nothing but Christ crucified for our sins, to save us and give us everlasting life with Him.
Because that right there is better than any perfectly-titled blog……. or a whole slew of personal emails in your inbox.