The first time I heard about the status of corn in our country, I was shocked. That sweet treat that tends to get caught in my teeth when I eat it is not exactly what it used to be. Apparently, corn has been genetically altered to resist pests, to combat the effect of weeds, and to be sterile.
[This article by Kevin Graham was recently printed in the Church Corner of a local newspaper and is reprinted here by the author].
In other words, growers can no longer replant the next season from seed grown that year. If you want to plant corn again, you have to get seed from the company that dominates the corn industry. From what I’m told, our government has made it illegal for commercial farmers to hold over seed from the previous year in order to help maintain this control of our food supply.
As a Christian, it makes me wonder if similar effects have altered our supply of seed from the Word of God.
Thanks to the printing press, and to those martyrs who helped promote the common availability of the Holy Bible, many of us have multiple copies of this treasured possession. And yet, that Word is not always what it seems.
Perhaps through the well-meaning efforts of scholars, writers, preachers, and other purveyors, the Word of God is often presented through altered theology. Denominations and independent ideologies have sprouted up over the centuries in an attempt to maintain consistency of belief in certain doctrinal views, but at what price? In some cases, it seems that what is presented as the Word of God has been genetically altered, so that what is consumed and accepted by followers of Jesus is often a weak replacement of divine truth.
This is how Bonhoeffer put it: “When we go to church and listen to the sermon, what we want to hear is his Word…The real trouble is that the pure Word of Jesus has been overlaid with so much human ballast–burdensome rules and regulations, false hopes and consolations–that it has become extremely difficult to make a genuine decision for Christ.”
Jesus warned the religious elite that they had a fine way of “upholding your traditions over the word of God”–bible-based traditions that were trying to help the people follow that Word. Paul prophecies that a time would come when “Christians” would no longer desire the purity of Scripture and would instead surround themselves with “a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”–things that would come from the Bible, but would be harmfully altered.
Under such conditions, what we often expect to be the Word of God, only has a form of godliness, but it denies the transforming power thereof.
I do not advocate dismissal of our traditions, denominations, or preachers. It is the purity of the Word that concerns me. It is a common adage that deceivers can twist the Bible to justify just about whatever they want, even well-meaning teachers, and even our own minds. And so what is the remedy?
I suggest that we keep a humble attitude toward what God actually says in his Word; that we act like the Bereans who tested everything they heard from their ministers according to what Scripture actually speaks; and, that we acknowledge that there is a good chance that many of our cherished beliefs that mark our cultural and religious heritage should be willingly subordinated to the simple breath of God as recorded in our Bibles.
The next time you celebrate communion, think of corn-bread and what it represents. We can only be truly nourished by the living Word of God in his pure, unadulterated form.
Let’s hunger more for the purity of his truth than for the acceptance of altered seed.
What are you doing to verify the purity of the seed you consume?