Wednesday Word: Understanding Scripture

So if it seems to you that you have understood the divine scriptures, or any part of them, in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, then you have not yet understood them. -- St. Augustine, Teaching Christianity, Book I

People are awfully good at picking and choosing their favorite bible verses, and/or bible verses that uphold their particular viewpoints, biases, prejudices, and fears.

Slavery was upheld in many churches because of its biblical support, and abolitionists were labeled as the worst kind of sinner for going against the direct word of God.

Women were, and are, relegated to second-class citizens in and out of the church based on scriptural quotes.

Equality of almost any kind, whether racial, gender, sexual orientation, or economic, is often denounced by Christians as being unbiblical.

The poor and destitute are told they must remain that way due to not only a limited reading of scripture, but due to a simple mean-spirited attitude of those espousing such views.

In my opinion, if you quote scripture to support racism, you are doing it wrong; if you quote scripture to keep women in their place, you're doing it wrong; if you quote scripture to lift up the rich and put down the poor, you're doing it wrong; if you quote scripture to support ideas based on separation and hate, you're doing it wrong.

The message you have heard from the beginning is that we should love one another. (1 Jn. 3:11).

Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. (1 Jn. 2:9)

For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt. 22:37-40)

Some people may condemn me to hell for not being exclusionary enough, or for allowing “those people” to taint the church, or for leading others astray; but if I stand condemned, I also stand with St. Augustine.

How do your dealings – financial, social, political, professional – build up the twin loves of God and neighbor?



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