Imagine that you have a great friend, but they live in another part of the world right now. I don't know – working in the Peace Corp, or in missions, or they moved to some sun-drenched holiday place and aren't planning on visiting here again for some time. Something like that.
Now, imagine that this great friend sent you some really, long letters, and another friend at the local post office has been holding them for you. You go to pick them up, but right away there's a problem. Your great friend's letters are all written in the language of the country s/he's currently living in, and you can't read them! "Not a problem!" says your postal friend. "I will read them for you." Great!
Except that what your postal friend reads doesn't sound like your great friend at all. Your great friend is very loving, humble, and gentle, for example, and a lot of these letters have a lot of angry, domineering violence in them. You're stunned.
But then it gets worse. Your postal friend reads you parts of these letters that say your great friend (or, at least you thought they were a great friend!) doesn't think much of you. In fact, in several places, your great friend seems to say you're a freak, someone who's horrible and ugly. Your knees start to feel a little saggy and the world seems to spin a bit. You really thought your great friend was your friend, and you value his/her opinion greatly! This can only mean, then, that either your great friend is two-faced and not to be trusted, or, that s/he is actually right about you.
The first possibility makes you angry. You storm off and tell everyone what a rotten scumbag your previous-great-friend really is!
The second possibility makes you hate yourself. You start hating who you are, just like your great-friend seems to, and your life becomes all about trying to be "better", even though there's no way you can.
But how many of us consider another possibility? That our postal friend is either
- (a) interpreting the letters incorrectly by accident, or
- (b) interpreting the letters incorrectly on purpose.
We do this same kind of thing with God and the Bible, all the time.
God gave us the Bible – His letters to us – in the original languages, cultures, and contexts He meant them to be in. They – and only they – are what He truly means for us to hear.
But in Old Testament times, New Testament times, and even all the way to today, there have been other "friends" who have mistakenly or on purpose read us God's letters incorrectly.
- They've told us God condemns Gay people.
- They've told us that God made women "weaker" and to be "subject" to men.
- They've told us that power and hierarchy that looks no different from what you'd find in any business is what God wants in His churches, as well.
- They've even told us that God wants African-descent people to be inferior slaves, that God wants the (their version of the) religion of Christianity shoved down people's throats (with violence, if need be), and so on.
So, why are we continuing to listen to these on-purpose or accidental lies?
Why are we giving sinful human beings the trust that we should only give to God Almighty?
Why are we letting human translations and interpretations of God's Word define who we are and how we should see and understand ourselves, instead of relying only on the character and message of Jesus Christ for that?
There is no translation of the Bible that's perfect. But there is a God who's perfect, and He is on your side, whether others read you His real message or not.
Be the person God created you to be – and not the person other sinful human beings have decided for God that He should want you to be.
Use your brain – use your heart – use your hope in Jesus Christ.
Investigate and hang on to God's real message (if you aren't sure what that is, start with Jesus Christ!)
God expects nothing less!