Cherry Picking

laneThere was an article in my local paper recently that sure ruffled a lot of feathers.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many angry and sarcastic responses to a news piece outside of this year’s election but I guess everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.  The article was about the problems in our area with left lane driving and its effect on the area’s traffic.  Here in Florida, it’s the law to use the left lane only for passing and to primarily drive in the right hand lane.  I know this law is currently on the books in many other states, but everyone around my community believes we are the self-professed slow driving capital of the world.

I could care less one way or the other what lane I use or who needs to go around me.  I just want to get to my destination safely which is why I was amazed at the outpouring of comments to the story.  The opinions mostly took one of two sides: that people who are passing in the left lane are usually breaking the law by speeding and driving recklessly.  The other prevailing opinion was that it was against the law to cruise along in the left lane and those who say people are speeding should move over and worry about themselves.

I can’t help but to say that this is a classic example of cherry picking at its best.  The speed limit is a law just the same as not driving in the left lane.  The people who speed are perfectly fine breaking that law but want others to follow the rules pertaining to passing in the left lane.  The person who cruises in the left lane is concerned about following the speed limit but is not willing to admit they are breaking other laws of the road in the process.  Can you say hypocrisy?

All this leads me to my point today and that’s how we cherry pick many things in life, especially the Bible.  The laws of the road are either all correct and we follow them all, or we pick and choose which ones we follow and which ones we don’t.  Likewise, the truths found in the Bible are either followed in their entirety or not at all.  We don’t have the liberty of telling God where he got it right and where we believe he got it wrong.

For example, some Christians believe that God is there to grant us great wealth and happiness in this life.  All we need to do is sow seeds of prosperity and watch God open the floodgates and shower us with blessings in proportion to our faith (John 10:10).   Taking this message on its own is dangerous because it contradicts other areas of the Bible that command us to take up our cross to follow Christ (Luke 9:23).  We can’t pick out what sounds good and throw out all those verses that speak very plainly about sacrifice and persecution.

Or what about salvation?  The Bible is very clear in its message of how we show obedience to the gospel.  Yet some will claim that I should just show faith, just say a trite little prayer (which is not in God’s word), and ask Jesus into my heart.  But if I take the whole word into account, I must look at verses like Acts 2:38 which commands repentance and baptism in response to the gospel message (Acts 2:14-37).

Finally, take the promise of a heavenly home for the children of God.  Many are confused that since Jesus promised to prepare us a home in Heaven (John 14:2-4) that God is a loving God who would never send someone to a place like Hell.  In fact, many Christians today dispute the very existence of Hell!  How bold, considering we can open that same Bible and read verses about the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) that specifically describe a place of eternal punishment, originally prepared for the devil, which will be the home of all those who sin against God and his word.

Unlike the drivers on the road who think we should mind our own business, in the world of Christianity, we should be very much aware of our tendencies to cherry pick God’s word and the dangers associated with such behavior.  We need to be adamant about reading the whole revelation of God, taking it for the truth, and practicing it without preference to circumstances.  Because one day, we will be asked to account for our response to his commandments, and what will we say?  I liked that rule but not that other one?  I think not!  I pray we trust God enough that we give him full obedience, not just obedience to what we’re comfortable with.

-Joe

 

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