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Pastor's Corner: Picking and choosing

We all exercise a right to choose what we like most. When you go to a restaurant, you might order from the menu what sounds best at the time. Maybe when eating a salad or trail mix you pass over the parts you don’t like — the croutons or the cashews or whatever.

When speaking about food and similar areas, that’s reasonable, and no problem at all. If we practice that habit in other areas, though, that can be quite bad. Imagine someone who practiced picking and choosing in math. If you refuse to use the number 4, a lot of calculations are not going to work out properly!

That’s true in general about facts. Things are the way they are. We can minimize or exaggerate about them; we can focus obsessively on one thing or ignore another altogether. But what happened still happened, however we feel about it. Denying or neglecting facts doesn’t change them.

People sometimes learn that the hard way when they dismiss limitations or constraints. I’ve sometimes had a dream of flying and woken up with a strong feeling that it must be possible for me to soar on currents of air. But I haven’t stepped off the edge of a cliff just yet! I have felt as though I could fly like a kite, but it would take stronger winds than any I’ve been around so far.

This habit of picking and choosing also comes in sometimes when people read the Bible. I’m not talking about having favorite passages, but about rejecting some part because it doesn’t sit right with me. Whenever I do that, it’s a fact that I’ve stopped being biblical. Whether I misinterpret it, or simply neglect some part of the Bible that I don’t like, it doesn’t make much difference. The Bible says what it does, no matter how I feel about it.

Paying bills would be terribly chaotic if I rejected the number 4. Something is in between 3 and 5, whether I like it or not. In the same way, if I claim to hold a certain position because it’s Biblical, that commits me to taking seriously everything the Bible says. Otherwise, I’m just using the Bible because on one point it happens to agree with me.

Rev. Ruben Zartman has been the pastor at Ebenezer Reformed Church in Shafter since 2017.


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