Trying To One-Up Scripture

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”—–1 Corinthians 2:1-5

======================================

Why is it that so many get caught up in the latest, seemingly profound, statements of others??  Why do people have a tendency to be drawn towards those that speak and write in such a way that they end up being so captivated by their daily quotes??  Is it that people are often too busy that all they want is something quick to motivate them for the day??

Throughout history, people have sought out others who try and make sense of this life and beyond.  When someone can clearly articulate their thoughts, most can’t help but be attracted to that person.  This can be very dangerous for people and especially for professing believers and the Church as a whole.

What I am talking about is elevating man’s words over God’s Word.

In a world that loves to pass on the latest “words of wisdom” they have come across, the same is happening in our churches.  We have been trained to expect and seek after pastors, leaders, authors, and basically anyone who can speak with passion, conviction, and charisma that “inspires” people.  Most times these people are masters at coming up with some witty phrases that help people to remember what they want us to know.  This in itself is a clever disguise not to bring clarity to Scripture, but to make it seem that the speaker actually knows what they are talking about and can connect well with their audience.

The reason why this is such a problem is that many have bought into the lie that God’s Word is not enough.  It isn’t simply a matter of trying to find ways for people to understand theology better or remember the lessons and application that we should each learn from the Bible, but rather cute quotes, phrases, acronyms, and other ridiculous tactics to remember man’s words.  People have fallen into the trap that we cannot simply read, study, and explain Scripture to clearly understand the Bible, but we must “one-up” it.  If that’s not enough, we must also try and have it repackaged to try and make it more appealing for the masses.

As a pastor, I’m appalled at how so many in ministry are so careless with their handling of God’s Word.  Not only are many twisting Scripture for their own agendas, but they are also promoting themselves through the elevation of their own words.  From tag lines, anecdotes, “the 3 R’s” of a passage, some words from Hebrew or Greek, a story or illustration, sermon series’, and lots of other things, it ends up putting the spotlight on man and becomes a stumbling block for people to understand true faith and obedience to the Lord.

A simple test is to look at how much time is used reading and studying what the Bible truly says as opposed to someone else’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  It seems that there is hardly anyone who is really preaching and teaching the Bible anymore.  Many pepper verses into their sermons and books to make it seem like they are “Biblical”, but most have hijacked God’s Word for their own.  And even more sad, most people have bought into these lies as well.

You may be saying that I’m being way too harsh and that we have a lot we can learn from these “gifted” people.  It is true that we can learn a lot from someone explaining what God’s Word really says.  But what is happening on a large scale isn’t the preaching and teaching of the Bible, but some inspirational pop-psychology that appeals to people looking for clever quotes that sound deep, spiritual, and even “nuanced”; whatever that is supposed to mean.

If you still don’t believe me,  I challenge you to examine how much this mentality has taken hold of us personally and the churches we attend.  Look around.  From the things we share with one another in person and on social media, from books and other people’s quotes, it clearly shows we have made man’s words more important than God’s Word.  This should not be.

Some of the best sermons, books, and conferences I have ever heard or read have focused solely upon God’s Word.  No cute quotes, phrases, stories, illustrations, or other fleshy appeals, but simply what the Bible says and what we should learn and apply to our lives as believers.  No Power Point slides, no manipulation through charisma, speech inflection, and playing with people’s feelings and emotions, but a pure undefiled proclamation of Scripture.

Sounds too simple and too boring, right??  But if we are going to say that God’s Word is enough, shouldn’t we live and act that way??  Shouldn’t we hold our churches, pastors, leaders, and others accountable for preaching and teaching the Word of God and not their own thoughts and opinions about faith, spirituality, and this life??  We must not seek to repackage anything to try to appeal to fleshy people looking to be entertained or anything else, but clearly proclaim the Truth of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and work in people’s lives.

As for me, I try especially hard to stay away from anything that can cause people to focus on my words rather than God’s Word.  So much so that I will intentionally try to reword things so that people hopefully won’t remember any of my words, but rather point people to the Lord through the lessons and application from God’s Word.  My words mean absolutely nothing, so why would I want people to quote or remember my words??  It may not be flashy, but I have a high responsibility to preach and teach the Word.

So enough of this constant promoting of man’s words.

Instead of looking for the “quote of the day” or what catch phrase the pastor had this past week, let’s return to the simplicity of reading and studying the Bible for what it says.  Sure it may not be attractive to most, but we must commit to taking God’s Word seriously and not become stumbling blocks to anyone.  May we each strive to walk in faith and obedience to God’s Word and no other.