Monday, September 12, 2016

cut & paste

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: 1 Chronicles 16:7-43
The two functions that have revolutionized the publishing world also happen to be two of my favorite computer shortcuts- CTRL X (that's cut) and CTRL V (that's paste). The only button I hit more than those two is UNDO! Just imagine how difficult it would be to write/edit/publish anything (newspaper, book, magazine, a blog) without the ability to insert, delete and/or rearrange the text. You might as well use a typewriter!
In today's passage, we encounter a grand celebration as David, with all of Jerusalem beside him, rejoices in the fact that the Ark of the Covenant is brought to where it ought to be. Since the time of Eli (1 Samuel 4), the Ark had been everywhere but where it should have, and now the nation rejoices that it is finally restored. King David does lots of things to commemorate the occasion: dancing, leaping, praising God; there's multiple sacrifices and offerings, free food for everyone, its a big deal.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing that David does here, recorded only in Chronicles, is compose a "cut & paste" Psalm, for the occasion. Consider this:
1 Chronicles 16:8-22 = Psalm 105:1-15
1 Chronicles 16:23-33 = Psalm 96
1 Chronicles 16:34-36 = Psalm 106: 1, 47-48
It's as if he took a penknife, found a scroll of the Psalms, and pasted together this beauty of a passage, and then handed over the new composition for the Levites to sing.
Thomas Jefferson also tried this "cut & paste" approach. But being a non-believer, the results were quite different. Jefferson tried to put together, in chronological order, the life and teachings of Jesus- but without anything miraculous or spiritual. Any references or stories involving angels, demons, miracles or anything else that Jefferson did not particularly agree with, were cut out. All talk of Christ's divinity, of His uniqueness, of the Holy Spirit, of sin and salvation have been excised. The saddest part, is his book ends with a portion of Matthew 27:60- "There laid they Jesus, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed."
How convenient for Mr. Jefferson. A Jesus who was not the Son of God and did not rise from the dead also makes zero demands on his life. (So he's free to fool around with his slaves.)
That is how much of the world operates- desperately hoping that there is no god (or that god doesn't care), so they can do whatever they want.
But let's be honest with ourselves, because we as Christians can be guilty of the same type of "cut & paste" mentality as Jefferson. When we think that we can pick and choose what to believe or obey in the Bible, we are doing the exact same thing. We all need to make sure we never place ourselves above the Word- as James warned us (see James 4:11). It judges us, NEVER vice-versa.
But what about David? How is what he did different?
It couldn't be more the opposite.
What David did was not an act of editing, but an act of worship. He wasn't seeking to "correct" or "improve" what God had written, He was seeking to honor God.
God has given us a great treasure in His Word. The beauty of the Bible is that it rhymes with itself and each passage supports the rest of its passages.
So really there is just one Psalm, one Prophet, one Gospel, one Epistle, one voice (even though there are 66 books). We are free like David to use any combination of the Scripture to honor God. So go ahead, highlight, underline, take verses from all over- whatever stirs your soul- just remember that the entire thing applies to your life.

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