‘The Bible doesn’t say that’

Published 6:04 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

While driving back home after visiting family up north last week, I noticed a sign in front of a large Methodist Church in the Roanoke area. It read: “Summer sermon series: The Bible Doesn’t Say That!”

Along with the usual jealous preacher thoughts (like, Why didn’t I think of that?!), there was also the deep appreciation that someone would take that on. There are a lot of pithy sayings we casually attribute to the Bible.

Like: “God helps those who help themselves.” Well, no. The Bible does lift up the importance of pulling your own weight and working together, but the Bible doesn’t advocate self-serving attitudes.

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Or “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Really? Haven’t found that in the Bible either.

Or one of those great Latin phrases, like “Caveat Emptor — Let the buyer beware.” No, I don’t think God is giving us any escape clauses for bad business practices. Or “Carpe Diem — Seize the day.” There are texts that sound like that, especially in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. But somehow that one missed the biblical cut, too.

Then there is the tendency to quote things out of context, like Jesus’ words, “The poor you will always have with you.” That was a statement about the importance of worshipping God first. It was never intended to give us an excuse from helping the poor.

When reading the Bible, it is always good to keep our minds active and engaged. The Bible is too important to read on autopilot.

It is supposed to be challenging as well as comforting.

That may be why we go to clichés rather than taking on the hard stuff.

Like: Worship the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Not your computer, not your sports teams, not your bank accounts.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Not more than, not less than. Just treat the other person like you would want to be treated.

Do justice … Give everyone what they deserve and don’t take anything from anyone what they need to live and enjoy God’s gifts.

Love kindness … practice the same love God has given you, and share it with others. Especially those you can’t stand. They may need it more than anyone.

Walk humbly with God.

A relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit is not something to brag about or to show off. It is supposed to be a lesson in humility. It is supposed to make us more human, not over and above anyone.

The Bible says a lot more than that. Go look it up yourself. But please go with an open mind and a loving heart.

Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is robin216@embarqmail.com.