“Do you have any work? Can I clean your house?”
I was about twenty-three when Ms. Christlin knocked on the front door of my small apartment in Haiti, and I had never been asked something like this. I really didn’t need someone to clean my home. I was managing just fine, and I felt a little odd hiring someone to do something I can do myself.
Looking back, it’s funny to think of my uncertainty and the stress I felt over doing the right thing. I didn’t know how to respond, so I told Ms. Christlin I would think about it and get back to her.
After she left I began to pray. God what should I do here? How can I handle this?
As I was praying, I didn’t hear anything new, but a verse from James popped into my head:
“27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”
I didn’t need new direction. The principle was right there in Scripture. I knew what to do. Ms. Christlin was a young woman who had recently lost her husband and was caring for three children, and she faithfully helped me with my home.
At ALIVE, we hold up Biblical Authority as one of our core values. We talk about living by Scripture and using that as our standard against which we measure everything else.
This is not a popular perspective today. It’s counter to our culture and often is met by questions about the age of the Bible, the relevance of the Bible, and our ability to interpret the Bible. While these are important questions and each one merits careful thought and study, they all ultimately point to a deeper question: Do I believe Scripture is the Word of God or not?
At ALIVE our answer is a resounding yes, and I’m starting from that presupposition. I’m banking my life on the truth that the Bible is God’s Word, and I’m trying to live by biblical authority.
Now, not all attempts to live by biblical authority are healthy. Some people in the name of the Bible speak hatefully against individuals and groups, oppress others, or set up complex, legalistic structures that fuel fear, pride or some combination of both. So here are a few thoughts on what living by biblical authority is and isn’t:
- Living by biblical authority is not cherry picking scriptures. It’s not taking a verse here about how to cut your hair or a verse over there about what we can and cannot eat and applying it to every circumstance.
- It’s not weaponizing the Bible or creating a sense of moral superiority. It’s not pulling one verse out like an arrow, drawing it back in a bow of our opinions, and shooting it off toward someone we want to outsmart, overpower, or silence.
- Living by biblical authority is looking at the story of all of scripture—a story about perfect relationship, brokenness, incredible love, justice, redemption—a story about Jesus—and doing our best to embody that whole story in every part of our lives.
- Living by biblical authority is talking to God about the very real areas in our lives where we are searching or uncertain and asking him to reveal his truth there. It is submission: taking my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions and checking them against the reality of the God who revealed himself in Scripture and adjusting them accordingly.
The process of trying to live like God’s Word is true is humbling. It reminds me I don’t have everything figured out, and I’m not the ultimate authority in my life, but at the same time, it gives me a vision for redemption in my life and the lives of everyone around me.
What steps can you make to live more by Biblical Authority?
See you on Sunday!