The Mustard Seed
One day a young couple asked to meet with me with a request. "We want to get married. Can you do our wedding?" They were not certain when they could have the wedding, since the bride was already married, but she was planning to divorce her husband so she could marry her new boyfriend.
Of course I said, "No, I can't." Then I asked the young man, "Do you really love her?"
He answered, "Yes, I do."
"Do you love her enough to help her restore and rebuild her marriage with her husband?"
That is not the answer they wanted. So they left and I never saw them again.
Then a few weeks later members of our church came to me with a bit of disturbing news. This couple tried to defend their plan by telling their friends that I approved it! Our members couldn't believe it, so they came to me to ask if that were true.
"No!" I told them. "I never said that! What I told the couple is just the opposite of what they are saying about me."
This couple gave me first-hand experience of how God must feel when we misquote Him, or we teach things about God that are not true. How often can God say of our faith and spiritual opinions, "I never said that!"? This is a problem that often shows up in Bible history. (See Jeremiah 23:16-40) In our day this is a problem we see with some TV preachers and Hollywood movies on religious or Bible themes.
It is a serious matter to represent God and His Word accurately, so serious that God included it in the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain." Or as we can translate in modern English: "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God."
Not only do we risk misrepresenting God in our doctrine and teaching, many immature Christians love to show how spiritual they are by telling us, "God told me..." and "God showed me..." Later they may discover that their own idea which they attributed to God was really a bad idea. I have even seen ministers of the church defend their acts of adultery by claiming, "God brought us together." No, He didn't! (See James 1:13-15.)
It is foolish and dangerous to ascribe to God our own ideas, desires, and opinions. We deceive ourselves into believing that God must think like we do. We tell ourselves, "Since I am right, it is reasonable to assume that God must agree with me." Wrong! The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like My ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9 NCV)
Another way we misrepresent God is by the choices we make and by the way we live our daily lives. What comes to your mind when you see a car driving too fast and your eye catches a Christian bumper sticker on the back of the car? We who are Christians represent Christ. Do our words, our actions, and our attitudes accurately reflect His character to the world? People judge Christ by what they see in us.
How can we avoid falling into the trap of misrepresenting Christ in our words and actions?
~ Pastor Ron
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in Ely 118.
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Pastor Ron Friedrich