Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Power of Misinterpretation

The problem of interpretation is not an exclusive Bible issue.

This is a human issue, stemming from Satan's primo marketing technique in the Garden of Eden. He markets death as the smart, eternal thing to do, helping the founding parents to drink the Kool-aid with him.

Today's inspiration comes from "The Power of One", a novel set in South Africa. What caught my attention was that the website clearly states a problem of interpretation. People think the title has to do with the power of one person to change the world. The author's intention was to point out the life-changing power of education, and how the whole trajectory of a child's life can turn based on one teacher's influence.

It's hard to fight against the snide, constant insinuation that the Bible is hopelessly flawed, that a vast gulf between its authors' intentions and people's perceptions must be bridged (or not) by human reasoning. The sad fact is that this is half-true - we get messages from God wrong all the time, in our own lives. The lie that exists in the insinuation is that the Bible is merely man's message to man, about a Supreme Being (who may or may not exist).

Can you make up your own interpretation and base it on the Bible? Of course, people do it all the time. Will it be accurate? No.

Another lie that people give in to is the "beauty" of re-interpretation. Somehow, we are supposed to believe that confusion and 20 different meanings that conflict with each other is a 'wonderful' human trait. If you find yourself slogging through an English-teacher approved book that makes you think about broken buildings and failed relationships and the continual drip-drip-drip of grey rain - you're supposed to end the novel gloomily satisfied that the human life is deep and vast and its purposes unknowable. When faced with an obstacle, armed with this depressing knowledge, you can stare at it hollowly and think about how all life leads to chaos and fear.

Variety is surely the spice of life, but if you don't know which spice to use, the sauce you are making will taste like ashes. And that's what Satan wants - ashes out of people's lives. But he constantly tells you that if you just push past this or that barrier, All Glory Will Be Revealed.

God's messages are clear, though hard to understand (it comforts me to know the Apostle Peter found it difficult, too). Swimming through this world's murk and fog isn't glorious, but it's work we've been given - until we get to go Home. Light abounding. Grace eternal. Life unending. No sign of brokenness or failure or sickness anywhere - and a depth of understanding we can't imagine now. What are Satan's promises when compared with that?

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