You surely have heard the question, “Why are there so many different opinions on what the Bible says?” It is a fact that ten different Christians can read most scriptures and they will have ten different opinions as to its meaning or purpose. Could it be that God’s Word was written to be obscure? Or is there another reason? I’ve heard it said, “Well, it’s all in how you look at it.” WOW! What a revelation! That’s the right answer; the opinions are determined by how THEY look at it. Let’s explore that!
Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, writes in his book, “The Purpose Driven Life;” and I quote:“One day you will stand before God, and he will do an audit of your life, a final exam, before you enter eternity. The Bible says, “Remember each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God… Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God.” (New Living Translation) Fortunately, God wants us to pass this test, so he has given us the questions in advance. From the Bible we can surmise that God will ask us two crucial questions: “First, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him? Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV) “Second, “What did you do with what I gave you?” What did you do with your life—all the gifts, talents, opportunities, energy, relationships, and resources God gave you? Did you spend them on yourself, or did you use them for the purposes God made you for?”
This quote was from chapter three entitled, “What Drives Your Life?” In this chapter the very first sentence is, “Everyone is driven by something.” He continues to probe the common driving forces behind our lives, the five most common being: Guilt –– Resentment and anger––Fear––Materialism––And need for approval. These driving forces are used in our lives to add perspective to the things we hear and how we respond.
Of course, as is evident from the book’s title, the proper driving force behind our lives should be a “purpose driven” life. The “purpose” that is to drive us is God’s purpose, not our purpose, not our parents purpose, not our neighbor’s purpose, not our spouse’s purpose, but God’s purpose. God always has a better purpose for us than we do!
Few Christians would argue with that statement, yet its acceptance and expression would be based on their individual standard, or bias…
Quoted from “Ultimate Intention” by DeVern Fromke, Chapter One, under Added Material.“Consider four segments of Christendom and their divergent burdens:
- First, the Liberals see the desperate needs of mankind and would emphasize the social work that needs to be done BY MAN.
- Second, the Fundamentalists, while recognizing social needs, know the emphasis must first be placed on redemption—that which God must do FOR MAN. Let no one minimize how important this really is.
- The third segment, often called the Holiness groups, insists that all this is too shallow. They would place the emphasis rather on the work which God must do IN MAN.
- And fourth, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are presently exploding around the world. Their leaders would insist that they combine all the above emphases, yet a closer discerning look might question the reality of that. And many would agree that they may have unwittingly allowed the above three to be overshadowed, because of their strong emphasis on man’s need for spiritual gifting and empowerment if God is to work THROUGH MAN.
There are two major influences that shape what we know and how we react to that knowledge. The standard, or bias we pass information through and also the perspective from which we view that information.
So, if I read scripture and I measure it against my life experiences, leanings, etc. (that is, bias) and I view it from the perspective of my need, or the needs of others, I will fall short experiencing the fullness of that scripture. I can’t possibly live its fullness because I judge it by an incorrect bias and the wrong perspective.
Bias (Webster) = A mental leaning or inclination; prepossession; propensity toward an object, not leaving the mind indifferent.
Perspective (Webster) = The aspect in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed.
DeVern Fromke continues describing the Liberal, the Fundamentalist, the Holiness, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements as centering their emphasis on “man” creating a philosophical bent that God’s purpose would be measured against.
This philosophical bent could lead us to conclude that God’s Word is primarily about His working to meet the needs of man, making man the center of all that He is doing. But, is this true?
An incorrect center, a “man-center,” re-enforced by various biases warp our understanding of God’s Word. If we digest God’s Word from a larger, accurate perspective, that is, a “God-center,” we would find ourselves filtering our biases through the Word rather than the Word through our biases.
Years ago I found an Illustration containing various perspectives:
Four Christians are going to climb a high mountain. We’ll call it Mt. Scripture. Each was climbing a different side of the mountain. When they reach halfway they each stop to reflect on their trip and to record what they see.
- One sees even other mountains with snow capped peak standing proud in the clouds–such Majesty!
- Yet another sees a large ocean with powerful waves and great swelling whitecaps–such Power!
- The third man looks out over rivers and streams wandering through dense forests and rolling meadows–such Peace!
- The last man sees flat lands with rich dark soil and abundance of crops in a quilt of color–such Prosperity!
Their joy in getting to their respective place and the wonder of what they saw prompted them to set up camp and spend the rest of their lives there on Mt. Scripture. Eventually, goaded by something not seen nor understood, the first man decided to break camp and continue up the mountain. As he reached the peak he was absolutely flabbergasted! He was now able to see, not only his previously limited view, but now he could see what the other men could see and more–now he could appreciate all things from a totally new perspective.
Using the examples of the book quotes above, their driving force would be a developed bias. Another bias would be atheism. These are the filters, or prejudices incoming information would process through.
Using the illustration of the mountain climbers, any perspective, or view other than from the peak would necessarily be a limiting view. That would not give you a complete picture of all that Mt. Scripture had to offer.
To set aside our handicaps (biases and limited perspectives) is doable if we acknowledge our God given vantage point!
You may already know the right scriptures, you possibly use the right words, so understand, as far as the Father is concerned you are already on the mountain peak, in fact you are higher.. Paul voices this truth in Ephesians 2:6, “and (God) raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”
From this vantage point, we just need to remove the “religious blinders” from our spiritual eyes. Maybe you’re thinking,” I’m not religious, I’m Christian, religion serves man, but I serve God!” But consider this; if your Christianity serves you then you are a “religious” Christian! If your Christianity is more about you than it is about God then you are a “religious” Christian.
I said a moment ago that you may already know the right scriptures, and that you probably use the right words, and, as far as the Father is concerned you are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies. So, if we are determined to study God’s Word and process it though our personal perspectives, or our Christian biases we will continue to fall short of God’s glory. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us we don’t have to fall short of His glory.
Later I want to take a quick journey through some significant scriptures in Job. If we don’t read Job to understand what this event means to GOD we will miss the most striking reason for Job’s story. To do this we must have in mind the bigger picture of God’s motive and purpose, in other words, “Why did You do that God?”