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  • Amber

God is Still Speaking

The United Church of Christ has a saying: “God is still speaking.” It’s a brief mission statement, or slogan, even. It’s a simple way to sum up what drives the denomination; God did not stop speaking after Jesus’ death, or after the various writers wrote their parts, They’re still speaking to us today. That’s why the logo often seen for the UCC is a comma, a visual notation to show that the thought is continuing and not ending.


There are many people that view the Bible as a very literal thing, but I think there’s something very important to consider for any interpretation of the Bible: It was written by people. And, as we all know, people are not perfect. As much guiding influence that God can offer, it’s still down to us to enact things, and nothing we do could ever be perfect.


The Bible is an anthology, it has many different writers that wrote in different languages and times and places. This isn’t a bad thing. As far as history is concerned, having multiple accounts of the same story adds validity to it, thus the different Gospels telling a similar story gives the life of Jesus credence, historically. But they aren’t all exactly the same, they each have their own way of telling the story, what was important to each of them and emphasis to match.


I recently read a passage from “The Spiritual Road” by Richard Haynes that really stuck with me: “While some strict-constructionist, biblically-oriented Christians might want to raise the objection that no one can be above the Law of God. God is above the scripture.” He continues by pointing out that he sent Jesus to correct the interpretation of the scriptures held by those in power, and that it’s far more important to trust God over trusting the Bible.


There’s a whole field of study dedicated to interpreting the Bible (or any religious text) called hermeneutics. Even then, there are different branches of that study based on how people think the Bible should be interpreted, whether it be literal, moral, or allegorical. Not to mention the added layer that comes from translating the texts into different languages.


So many people are stuck on the specific words used in the Bible, holding onto the words they see, even if they hurt people. God spoke to the people of the Bible in a way for their time and place and needed to speak to them where they were and how they were – a reason why we often look to the historical context of the Bible. Another slogan from the UCC is “Our faith is over 2000 years old. Our thinking is not.” There’s no reason to believe that God would not speak to us in a different way, for our time and place.


There is no limit to the Triune God, for They are beyond human understanding, so thinking within our human limits will never fully encompass God. The Bible is not the end of God’s word - if we but choose to have the ears to hear Them. As Hebrews 4:12 says: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active.”


So, what if we listen for what God is saying today, to us, in our time and place. It may not come as a loud booming voice, it may come as it did to Elijah, thin and quiet, like a whisper (1 Kings 19:12). A guiding influence that encourages us to be our best selves and treat others with the love God wishes for us.


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