Summary: 3d week in Lent Year B: Incorporate the Clear, Profound, and Life-Giving Word into your life
I love songs that tell me clear and profound things about life. I hate music that is nothing but unintelligible and repetitious rants against everything the musician can see. If you are going to complain and try to influence me, I would hope that as a songwriter, you’d at least be clear and profound about what you are doing.
Take, if you will, one of my favorite songwriters – that noted theologian Alfred Yankovic, better known as Weird Al. If you’ll indulge me, I want to give you just a taste of what he thinks of most songs out there:
If you know any of his music, you know that Weird Al cares about the words of the songs we play to ourselves, and he mocks them mercilessly when they are stupid. By the same token, when he was a disc jockey – he highlighted those songs that had something to say.
Well, this morning, I want to give some air time to the song we have before us. Like Weird Al’s song, Psalm 19:7 – 14 is really just six words long. It tells us that the Word of God is perfect, sure, just, clear, clean, and true. But this morning, in the interest of time this morning, I want to look at just three of the concepts: Clarity, Wisdom, and Life. You see, the Word of God is the most Clear and Profound song about your real life.
Let me start with Ps 19:8. It is very plain when it says that the Word of the Lord is clear – it gives light to the eyes. It is as plain and simple as the plain and simple Truth can be.
But I know that people have objections to that. I’ve had people tell me that the Bible is too hard to understand. The kinds of people who say that fall into two groups – there are a few who have a hard time understanding the words, but more people have a hard time understanding the truth.
Let me just say a few brief words if you are having a hard time actually understanding the actual vocabulary of Scripture.
Some people think of the Bible like Shakespeare, and most of the time it’s because they are reading a Bible that was translated at the time of Shakespeare. If your only Bible is a King Jimmy and you are having a hard time understanding words than just pick up a modern translation like the NIV, the ESV, or even a New Living Translation. It’s not that the words of the Bible have changed – it’s that the English language has changed. Five years ago, if you talked to someone about a Facebook, they probably would have thought you had been down to the police station. Back in the 1600’s, if you called someone an idiot, you would have just been saying that they stayed to themselves. Nowadays, I tend to be one of those idiots socializing on Facebook – which is a sentence that just wouldn’t have made sense way back when.
The Bible itself is really written at about a 6th grade level. Peter and John - who are responsible for 8 books of the New Testament – were uneducated fisherman. If you have passed elementary school, you probably have more book knowledge than most of the apostles. When I was an Undergraduate Econ major, I had to learn words like ‘heteroskedasticity’ and ‘multicolinearity.’ But when I did my Masters in Seminary, I had to learn words like “Love,” “Joy,” “Peace,” and “Self-Control.”
The truth is - most people have a working definition for words like that. As Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me – it’s the part that I do understand.” You see, most people object to the idea that the Bible is clear not because they don’t know the words – it’s because their minds aren’t able to grasp the truth.
Our epistle picks up on that so clearly. Paul says in 1 Corinthians that the Gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. In fact, Paul says that natural, sinful men think that the Gospel is foolishness. When they hear things like, “Love your neighbor,” they understand the concept – they just think it’s insane.
You see, the problem is that we live in an upside down world. But when you are upside down long enough, you brain thinks that’s normal. Scientists tell us that our eyes actually pick up the world upside down, but we translate it as right side up. If you stand on your head long enough, the brain will readapt. And that’s the problem with understanding clear Scripture – our brains are so accustomed to a broken world that clear words don’t make sense.