It’s Valentine’s Sunday. My pastor went around before church with a bowl of Hershey’s kisses, asking everyone if they wanted a kiss from him. Heh heh. Good one, Pastor Mike.
My pastor is a top notch teacher, in my opinion. A lot of things in the Bible get mysticized, mythologized, or abstracted to the point of being clear as mud. I don’t remember the source of the quote, but someone once said something along the lines of “if you can’t explain something simply, you really don’t understand it.” I take that to heart. When I’m babbling it’s usually because my hold on the concept isn’t refined. Sometimes I have too many thoughts I’m trying to cram in. Other times, it’s sort of like I’m grabbing for words just trying to express a notion that I haven’t fully captured yet. My Dad used to tell me, “If you want to know about something, learn the lingo.” That’s so true, but it shouldn’t be that way in church.
I’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands of sermons in my life. The one thing that really fascinates me is how a group of three hundred people can listen to a sermon and each hear a different sermon. Sure, the words are the same, but God’s Word works differently in each soul.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
If you talk to people about what they heard, you see that each person applies it through their own experience, feelings, and current situation. Any serious student of the Word will tell you, you can read a passage hundreds of times, then one day see something there you never saw before. You may even have that passage memorized. Doesn’t matter. The day God reveals something new to you is when you’ll see it. That’s why Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” It’s like mining for diamonds. You have to hunt for it.
A great deal of scriptural misinterpretation comes about because of our desire to hear what we want to hear. Sometimes we read in things that aren’t there because we feel guilty, or have some misguided feeling that God is out to get us. Sometimes we read in what isn’t there because its what we’ve always heard. It’s hard to see past pre-conceptions, both good and bad.
I think for the most part that it is a good and intended thing that everyone hears a different sermon. That’s how God works. It’s only a bad thing when it’s not God you’re listening to.