I have trouble not being surprised at the number of people who are frequently complaining about Scripture being taken out of context, yet who insist on yoking all of the family of God to a code of rules that includes every “command of Scripture,” with no regard for what a particular commandment’s context was in terms of the hearer’s location, issues unique to the congregation or believer to whom it was spoken, cultural relevance, or the absence of commands that are relevant to current cultural, locational, or individual needs for instruction.
Some of these rule-givers try to give them more strength to bind people by adding fear of failure to the mix. Some are even given with the threat of the lake of fire for failure to fully comply. It brings me to tears to see people who have been warned of the fires that wait for eternal torment to believers who don’t follow the denominational rules, including such impositions as men who have facial hair or short sleeve shirts.
One such victim whom I was teaching to read English was warned that he was going to burn forever for spending time with me, due to my anti-Christ moustache and the devilish short sleeve shirt that I was using to temp their ladies to lust after my arms. The most heart breaking effect of this foolishness is the number of people who believe it, and because they believe it, also believe they are not good enough to be part of the church, and therefore are lost in the earth in condemnation, refusing to come to Jesus for comfort and redemption.
Some questions that we painfully need answers to include: where to be involved in a congregation, what job to take, what ministry to invest in, whom to marry, how to raise my particularly gifted or challenged children, and how to respond to an abusive neighbor. The Spirit of God, Who inSpired the Scriptures, has the answers to all of those questions, and to any others that we have. He sometimes uses the Scriptures to reveal the answers.
The answers we find should not be considered as useful for building blocks with which to build any religion or a prison of rules on how to live. The answer in some situation today may not resemble the answer to tomorrow’s question. I may be told one thing regarding responding to different people or at different points in time, based on their needs or maturity, or on mine, and another day hear a different instruction.
In the Lord of the Rings story by J. R. R. Tolkien, there were several rings that had been given to different kings. They were made to control the kings, but given with the pretense that they were made to honor them. The most troublesome ring was called “the one ring to rule them all.”
The “one rule” in our lives might need to be, “Ask the Spirit.” He can use the Scriptures to answer us, or He might use any story we find ourselves in, unveiling the hidden answer as a parable. He may even use the jackass who is giving us a ride to work (Numbers 22:22).