Summary: We often use this phrase to defend our actions or to attack the beliefs or actions of another, but the Word of God requires more reflection beyond a simple adherence. Ultimately, we must look to the revelation of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
Now, when we start talking about a “filter,” I realize that it becomes easy to just “shrug off” the difficult passages and commands of Scripture by saying, “that doesn’t apply,” or “that’s not relevant anymore.” But we can’t go to that extreme either. The call of Christ requires far more of us than most of us will ever give; it requires sacrifice, it requires doing the tough thing. We have to take seriously the word of God as contained in the Bible and as revealed in Jesus Christ. But we cannot and should not go to the extreme of using the Bible to defend our bad actions and poor decisions, or to attack the bad actions of poor decisions of others. Ultimately, we need to act in a way that reveals Christ’s love and helps others and ourselves grow in our relationship with God. And sometimes that means we need to examine and interpret the Scriptures with more depth than just the simple, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”
There was a rabbi who made up a t-shirt not too long ago, and it said this: “God said it. I interpreted it as best I could in light of all the filters imposed by my upbringing and culture, which I try to control but you can never do a perfect job. That doesn’t exactly settle it, but it does give me enough of a platform to base my values and decisions on.”
God’s word matters. It is the most important word we will ever read; it should and will shape our lives. But it is far too complicated for a simple adherence. Rather than, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it,” it would be better for us to say something like, “God said it. I take it seriously and do my very best to understand how it applies to my life today.”
May we pray and seek God’s will and God’s way in our lives every single day.