As I mentioned in another blog post, being a relatively new father brings new insights into my faith. Reflections on my daughters as they learn and grow often cause me to consider some of my own childish ways. Noting their dependence upon their mother and me is a daily reminder of my own need for God's protection and provision. It's rare that those reminders/reflections don't pop up daily. This post is about one such lesson.
Months ago, Jael began to master the alphabet. It's been fun listening to her try to pronounce certain letters like "F", "H", and "X". And who knew that "W" had 7 syllables? Of course, at age 2, it's really cute. As time progressed, she displayed more and more mastery and naturally, made her parents quite proud. One day, I heard her behind me shouting out "DEEE! DEEE!" over and over. I looked over and saw her pointing downward by the glass sliding door. As I walked over to see what she was pointing at, I saw the picture below.
Naturally, I laughed. Everything my daughter does that isn't directly related to disobedience is a reason to dote on her. How do I explain that door mats are no more the letter "D" than the old Twin Towers are the number "11"? So, I did the only thing I could think to do: celebrate my daughter's recognition of the shape of a "D" and I kept it moving. But the observation stuck with me.
My darling daughter, cute as can be, was utterly ignorant of the purpose for which this "D" was made. The fact that it was on the floor by the door did not give her a single context clue. Instead of asking what it was, she simply super-imposed her own idea based on her very limited frame of reference, vocabulary, and knowledge.
In other words, my daughter could pass for almost any "Word of Faith" preacher.
When reading the Bible, many persons make the same kinds of mistakes that my daughter made. Classic examples from my own experience as a campus minister and Sunday School teacher:
1) Jesus is at the Cross and says, to His mother Mary, "Woman, behold your son.", then turning to the Apostle John says, "Son, behold your mother." The passage goes on to say that "from that time, the disciple took her into his home. My student's interpretation: Jesus wanted John and Mary to hook-up and get married. My student's rationale: "Why else would he take her into his home?"
2) The Bible says that God "made man in His own image" and also that He "breathed" into man and he became a living being. So a student got the idea that Adam looked exactly like God and since God's spirit was in Adam, he had the power of God. You'd think Creflo Dollar and Joseph Smith were visiting my classroom. That would be awkward.
The failure to comprehend certain cultural norms in a narrative or laziness which prevents us from discovering the ancient Semitic understanding of a given word can easily lead to the danger of imposing our own thoughts and opinions on a Bible passage. When one reads Scripture without a serious attempt to understand the intent of the author, the most likely way the original audience would have heard, the Bible becomes a wax nose, mere clay in the hands of the reader. Whether done in arrogance or ignorance, the great danger and sin is this: it is we who are to be molded by God through the Holy Scriptures, not the other way around He is the Potter, we are the clay.
The invitation to become like children to enter the Kingdom of God is not an invitation to immaturity or inventive imaginations concerning His word. Handling the Sword of the Spirit is not child's play.