I rarely watch television, but I have to admit that the Food Network is dangerously tempting for me. If I allowed myself to slip into television stupor, I’ve no doubt that I could sit for hours watching the competitive show, Chopped. However, not only would much of my time then be irrecoverable, I would almost inevitably face the many appetites elicited by the program.
Should it be surprising? Food is one of the most delightful experiences in our lives and many fond memories are based around it. Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Good Housekeeping . . . the list goes on and on for all the different TV programs or magazines that will feature recipes from outstanding chefs.
Considering that these chefs are in the realm of genius within their specialties, I should ask myself why I change nearly every recipe that I try. If it’s a casserole, I double the vegetables. If it’s a cookie, I never do the recommended bake time. Soup? Maybe some extra seasoning, veggies, or beans. It doesn’t matter what it is: cut this, add that. I guess I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I enjoy the freedom to change up the recipe however I desire.
In many areas it is highly beneficial to experiment with new things, push the boundaries, and not assume that the traditional is best simply by way of it being traditional. It inspires thought and creativity and it can at times generate progress. From a marketing perspective, the “best” products or procedures are largely relative. We are triggered very differently depending upon numerous factors. Gender, age and culture are just hitting the surface. One size rarely fits all and the goal is to be adaptable.
Considering all the benefits that have resulted from our culture of ingenuity, is there any fathomable limit as to what this mindset should be applied? Yes! I will say it again. Yes! Additions and subtractions within a recipe is one thing, and marketing adaptability is a necessity. Unfortunately, many people are applying this same strategy to their belief in God, particularly within the Christian community and its eroding reliance on the Bible as the foundation of their theology.
If you are reading this article and hold to an atheistic, agnostic, or other non-Christian religious viewpoint, then this won’t apply to you. Though equally important, that would be an entirely different topic. I am writing to those who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. My question to you is this: is your Jesus based on what the Biblical authors experienced and claimed Him to be, or is your Jesus based on your feelings and opinions of what you want Him to be?
One of my favorite quotes is from Robert Frost’s poem, The Black Cottage: “Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.” Analyses of this poem will often claim the minister within it had problems accepting change, lending a negative twist on the minister’s convictions. The truth is, truth doesn’t change! If it did, it wouldn’t be truth. The change is whether a person’s heart is open to it or not. We are either in favor of truth or not, but truth itself does not change.
Our justice system is correct in its demand and definition of truth as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We cannot subtract from truth and have absolute truth. We cannot add to truth and have absolute truth. Yet, this is the common theme of Christianity today in our culture. Many dismiss whole passages of Scripture based on how they think or feel. Many don’t bother to learn enough from the Bible to even know what to dismiss. Wouldn’t it be better to base our understanding on accounts of those who were eye-witness to Jesus and whose testimonies were confirmed across the board with other eye-witnesses?
Since the disciples lived and breathed under Jesus’ teaching for three years, wouldn’t they know whether their own testimony of Him was true or false? If for instance they knowingly testified to a false depiction of His teaching, do you think they would have radically based their lives upon that faulty foundation in face of severe persecution and even to the point of their death? Martyrdom for what they knew to be a lie? And not just one, all faced martyrdom and did not relent. Of the twelve (minus Judas the betrayer), ten of the original disciples were killed. An unsuccessful attempt was also made on John’s life – though I think being thrown into boiling oil would make me seriously question the legitimacy of my convictions. No. For this reason, among many others, the Bible is actually considered the most accurate historical document that exists¹ . . . And yet we think we know better?
To be fair, some Biblical topics are difficult to navigate. The unfortunate “feud” between Calvinist and Arminian thinking, for instance, leaves me scratching my head. References for both theologies are present, and I can’t pick and choose which is correct with much conviction. The same applies to questions around the rapture. Pre-tribulation? Mid-tribulation? Post-tribulation? I guess we’ll find out someday, though I admit that I can’t muster much excitement concerning the tribulation part. These theological mysteries are not the downfall of the church, however. As AW Tozer states, “God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, ‘O Lord, Thou knowest.’ Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints” (The Pursuit of God). No, the downfall occurs when we look at Scripture and turn our face away with this statement: “I disagree.”
This isn’t always so blatantly stated. Often times it comes in the form of “My opinion is . . .” Our opinion? I’ve long since realized within my Christian walk that opinions, mine or anyone else’s, don’t matter. We don’t worship God in spirit and opinion, we can only worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). Certainly misinterpretation or misapplication can happen to even the most sincere and devoted Christians. The question is whether we are seekers of truth and not just what makes us feel warm and fuzzy.
As both Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” It is not only to our benefit to seek truth, our lives can depend upon it. It is the truth which sets us free (John 8:32), not the warm and fuzzies. Actually, this passage is set up conditionally stating that it’s about more than seeking truth, it is about walking in it: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 31-32). A similar seriousness is emphasized in Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders: “Therefore everyone who hears these word of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose , and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundations on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Much of our compromising of Scripture is rooted in our temptation to sin, either by disregarding passages explicitly declaring something to be wrong or by watering down God’s holiness and severity towards sin. The fruit of this is not only hurtful to ourselves, it stops short the ultimate purpose God intends for us on earth which is to represent Him and be wholly conformed to His likeness.
Ironically, one of the main arguments of those who like to disregard God’s condemnation of sin is on the basis that God is love. On the contrary, God’s nature of love cannot be pleased with evil. And since sin is only destructive to our lives, a loving God will surely want to direct and correct us far from it. We should not think that the love of God is disjointed from the severity of God. It is only when we first understand the severity of God’s stance against sin that we can truly comprehend the great love He has for us, for “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus is not a symbol of God’s leniency toward sin. The scars upon his hands and feet should be a reminder of just how serious God is in His judgment against it. Yet to this great length He did not hesitate to save us – not by way of permitting us to remain in what destroys us, but by saving us from our own destruction.
Do not be afraid to submit to God’s truth. It is the only way to freedom. It is the only way to wholeness. Who better to know the best for our lives than our Creator and Redeemer? There is no benefit to experimenting with new things or pushing His boundaries. There is not progress to be made outside of His prescription for us. God is not relative, He is a rock upon which we can stand firmly and securely. In the end, you will find that the best “God Recipe” is not one you can add to or subtract from, and there is great comfort in this constancy.
* * * * * * * * *
“I am the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
“For I am Jehovah; I have not changed.”
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.”
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
“He delights in unchanging love.”
“His love endures forever.”
(Psalm 100:5, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 136, 1 Chronicles 16:34, 2 Chronicles 5:13, 2 Chronicles 7:3, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Ezra 3:11, Jeremiah 33:11)
1. If you are interested in studying the claims to Biblical accuracy, I highly recommend the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.
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