How often do we stop and consider the meaning of our words – the absolute and true meaning? Take the word “resolution”. In everyday use, especially at this time of year, it refers to a New Year’s decision to change. Frequently, the resolution dies within a few weeks or months. Life goes on. But check out the deeper meaning. “Resolution” is one of those words used in different contexts. One meaning provided by the Oxford English Dictionary is “The smallest interval measurable by a scientific (especially optical) instrument; the resolving power.” I like that. A high-resolution photo is sharp, no matter how much it is enlarged. Technically speaking, the highest-resolution photos are the best quality.
I recently read Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. It’s a scathing dissection of the emergent church. His argument is that while the movement may appear to be the wave of the future – some even call it a new Reformation – it’s rooted in ancient spiritual practices that are at odds with sound, traditional, biblical Christianity. Even those in the movement who brand themselves as conservatives and evangelicals have been deceived by Satan, the author suggests. There’s no use condensing the book’s message or even reviewing it in this space, as I could not do it justice. I do urge you to read it. For me, it was an eye-opener.
I am now listening and reading more closely, more critically. I have a minister friend who always listens intently to what I say. More than once, he has caught me speaking untruth, tossing out nuggets of wisdom as if they were Scripture. But does the Bible really say that? Uh, no. Guilty. While annoying and somewhat embarrassing, I have come to appreciate his attention to detail. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV). We need to be there for each other.
I recall visiting a church where I got talking with a man who had been a member for more than fifty years. On the wall behind him were photos of every minister who had served during his time. I asked if he remembered them all, and he said that he did. I asked if one stood out above all the others. He pointed to one. When asked why, he described his theatrical style, his voice, and his pulpit presence, bringing Scripture to life like an actor on a stage. Lacking in his description was any reference to content, theology, proclamation of truth, or calling sinners to repent. In this dear gentleman’s mind, it didn’t seem to matter.
I have a strong sense that we are all subject to such deception – myself included. So, my resolution is this: that 2018 be the year in which I learn to listen closely, to read carefully, and to pay close attention to the content and less to the packaging, all with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.