USING SCRIPTURE AS A TOOL FOR PRIDE

I keep bumping into them everywhere I go. You know the kind, the self-righteous, pompas, know-it-alls who have recently found Jesus in their hearts and want to spread their particular interpretation of who Jesus is to everyone who will listen. All religions have them. I am not talking about anyone who has received Christ into their heart in sincerity and truth. I am talking about those who are irrationally zealous persons who think that they have discovered what people for over two thousand years have experienced and they have just discovered.

One tell-tale characteristic is how they must convert you to their Jesus or you will be going to Hell. Usually, I don’t pay them any attention and brush off their lack of humility and tact as just the boorish behavior of the ignorant. I dismiss them as having the word of God but on shallow ground who will be unable to bear good fruit because of their pride. They don’t even know that they don’t know. One other thing this teaches me is how I must not fall into the easy trap of Satan that lures the seemingly pious and sincere into the entrapment of pride. Some loosen their bonds while other never do and remain a victim of their own pride and ignorance. St. Benedict’s Rule sets forth the steps his monks are encouraged to walk in Chapter 5. It is striking to me how much humility and obedience are dependent upon one another. Read Philipppians 2:5-12. It is the only words I use for my Lectio Divina meditations and the inspiration for this message as well.

Genesis 2-3 is a story, one shrouded in the mists of ancient history, that recounts one person (representing all humans) and one man (the mother of humanity) as they receive human reasoning and the ability to choose what is good for them. God tells them what is good for them, to be gardeners of His Garden of Eden and take care of all living things. He tells them what is bad for them, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good or evil or else they will die. You read it for yourselves. I always thought Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree that made God angry, but it was the pair on the ground that got them into trouble. The Genesis Story is at the core of why Christ had to become one of us. It is called reparation for Original Sin and He had to leave the security of the Godhead to take on the nature of a human. (God actually never left being God, even when He became flesh as Jesus Christ, says St. Augustine). St. Paul uses the notion that Christ is the second Adam throughout his Letters. It is beautiful fulfillment of our origins and how Christ came to set us truly free to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

Romans 5 NRSVCE –

Adam and Christ 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification[f] leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Obedience by Jesus Christ to God is the reparation that must be paid to redeem all of humanity from eternal oblivion. Redeemer means a family member who goes to the pawn shop with the ticket to buy back that was hocked in the past and is awaiting redemption. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1350.htm

Some who realize the great sacrifice of Christ for us are so consumed with zeal for their Father’s House that they fall off the deep end and thus become easy pickins for Satan. That is why we must keep ourselves rooted in humility and obedience to what God wants us to be. Being in a community of Faith that is grounded in Christ is a good way to keep from falling over the edge. It is also good to seek mercy from God daily for everyone, beginning with yourself.

Now to my point (about time, don’t you think?).

THE TEMPTATION TO PROVE YOU ARE RIGHT AND I AM WRONG I can always tell the unitiated in Faith because they will be armed with one sentence from Scripture that they shove in your faith (face) and ask if you believe. One such phrase is found in John 3. Read the context.

John 3:4-6 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[a

My objection is not with Scripture, for it is true as handed down from the Apostles. My concern is that the uninformed and uninitiated use Scriptre for their own gains (proving that you are wrong and they are right and thus righgteous). Often is is accompanied by the statement that you will go to Hell if you don’t believe. For one thing, you can’t throw one tiny phrase of Scripture at someone to prove that they are wrong and you are right. You can’t prove anything about Baptism and the Holy Spirit by force or by proof. Faith is a gift not the cras object of a proof about anything. It is a gift from God freely given to those who wish to call God Abba, Father. It must be freely received by us using the Holy Spirit to claim our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. Proving God? Human reasoning can try to bunch some ideas together, but Faith allows us to call ourselves with the name of Christ at all. We don’t earn any of this. We can’t pray our way to Heaven on our own merits, but we can pray that we receive humility and God’s grace in us to give praise and glory to the Father, always through, with, and in Christ.

Now to my point (here we go again).

There are two approaches I find people use to justify themselves whenever they push Scriptures onto others who already believe or who have no idea what they are talking about.

I. SCRIPTURES USED TO PROVE THAT MY GOD IS RIGHT AND YOUR GOD IS WRONG. Although that may seem a bit over exaggerated, my point is the motivation is to prove you are right and someone else has the wrong notion of who God is.

I sometimes triffle with people who come to my door or corner me at a table in a restaraunt to pump their Scripture phrase at me. I know, I should not do it, but it is my own pride showing off(which I am trying to overcome with Christ’s help).

They ask me if I am baptized and saved. I reply, that I have been saved 28,928 times (the number of days since I was baptized in 1940). I ask them if they take up their cross daily and follow Christ. They sheepishly mumble something about they don’t know what that means. I tell them, come back when you know its meaning and I will explain it. No one has ever come back.

My point is, Scriptures are not meant to point out I am right and you are wrong, which may lead to pride into thinking that God thinks a lot like you, even your interpretation of Scriptures. Just as Moses led the people out of Egypt amid grumbling and eventually to worship the Golden Calf, trust those appointed our leaders to lead us through the promised land of today.

II. THE PURPOSE OF SCRIPTURE

The correct way to use Scripture is not to Lord it over others who can’t defend themselves by proving to you that they are saved, which they never can do, but to do what St. John says at the end of his Gospel in Chapter 20:31.

John 20:30-31 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) The Purpose of This Book30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah,[b] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Judge others with the same criteria you want God to judge you. In my opinion, you don’t want to use Scripture as a weapon to beat others over the head with what they do or don’t believe is the truth, but rather to allow them believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. One is pride, the other is everlasting life and the fulfillment of what Christ told us, to love one another as I have loved you by seeing how you act. Your choice.

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

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