The Big Picture

You know when you’ve been thinking about a lot of different things and processing what other people have said, and all of a sudden, all of these seemingly unrelated thoughts come together in one realization? That happened to me today. It might not sound impressive, but here was my revelation: God does not give nit-picky commands. The guidelines in the Bible are all about lifestyle, not moment-by-moment decisions. Individual decisions are important because they shape our character, but God is not waiting to zap us for the smallest infraction. We need to step back and take a look at the big picture, because we will never find God in bits and pieces of misinterpreted Scripture.

So here’s a couple of specific thoughts:

1. Lying. Why would God bless the Hebrew midwives for lying in Exodus 1:20 when one of the Ten Commandments is “you shall not bear false witness”? Not everything is black and white.  First, this command refers more to falsely accusing your neighbor. Second, being honest has to do more with integrity than following the letter of the law. Also, if I am out getting your Christmas present and you ask where I’ve been, I find it perfectly acceptable to twist the truth. If you later accuse me of sinning, I will laugh at you.

2. Using God’s name in vain — “The Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name” (Deuteronomy 5:11). This verse is often interpreted very narrowly, something to the effect of “Don’t say ‘oh my God’.” But if we interpret the 3rd commandment as being about cursing, I think we trivialize it significantly. I think it encompasses a much broader concept. I think it encompasses a lifestyle.

When you think about it, what is a greater misuse of God’s name than to call yourself a Christian and lead a life that draws others away from the truth? Identifying yourself with Him while going your own way is the worst form of hypocrisy. If you’re going to bear the name of Christ, you must bear the cross as well — anything less is truly using His name in vain.

So if you happen to hear someone swear, before you gasp and point fingers, really think about this command and then take a look at yourself. At some point in your life, have you not misused God’s name in a much more serious way?

3. The role of women in the church. I realize that this will probably create a lot of controversy among readers. But this is the only way it makes sense to me. I do believe that men and women were created to fill different roles, but I think Paul’s passages on women in the church are taken too far. Some people believe that because women are not supposed to “teach” men, it is wrong for them to witness to men as well. I say heck no. Again, it’s a big picture thing. As a woman, do you live a life of humility and grace, allowing men to be leaders? That’s what important, not splitting hairs over what you are and are not “allowed” to do.

These are all lifestyle choices. In the end, what will people say about you? How did you live your life? I think the big picture is more important than interpreting rules too narrowly. After all, look at the Sermon on the Mount. What is the constant refrain? “You have heard…but I tell you….” Jesus clarified the guidelines people had distorted, pointing out that it was all really a matter of the heart. When asked what the #1 commandment was, he replied that the entire law is summed up simply in one word: love.

So step back. Look at the big picture before you try to put the puzzle together. And I think you’ll find, as I did, that maybe it’s not so complicated after all.

Published in: on December 5, 2011 at 12:49 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I really appreciate this! Thank you.

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