Summary: We treat God’s Word as an ’all you can eat’ buffet. We take some of it in -- but we ignore the rest.
When I was in college, there was a restaurant that we loved to go to. It was an all you could eat type of place, which explains why I look the way I look today.
We would go and stand in line in the buffet and pick all those things we wanted to eat -- shrimp, crab, clams, hushpuppies, French Fries. And we would ignore those things we didn’t want on our plate -- broccoli, spinach.
We loved that place and ate there at least once every week.
What was the basis for what we ate and what we didn’t? Whether it appealed to us. Not whether it was good for us. Not whether or not it made a balanced meal. Just, what did it taste like?
Sometimes I think we try to grow in our faith as if it were an all you can eat buffet.
We go through life picking out this doctrine, but ignoring the others. We select some ethics, but reject others.
What is the basis for what we believe and don’t believe? Whether it appeals to us. Not whether it is true. Not whether it is right. Just whether or not we like it.
We treat the Word of God as if it were nothing more than an “all you can eat buffet.” We pick up some things and make them part of our lives, while we ignore other things.
Our faith, our beliefs and our ethics have become like an all you can eat buffet. We pick and chose.
A friend of mine tells me that he and his wife are getting a divorce. The reason? My friend told me they were getting this divorce over her favorite movie.
I asked my friend, “What in the world is the name of her favorite movie?”
He looked at me and with a straight face said, “The Nine Commandments.”
I said, “You mean the TEN Commandments?”
“No,” he said. “That’s the problem. She left out the commandment about ‘thou shalt not commit adultery.’”
Well, in the faith buffet, she apparently selected nine out of ten, deciding not to pick up on the prohibition against adultery.
But aren’t we all like that.
It is so easy.
Our reading from the Psalms has a wonderful poetic description of the Word of God.
“The Law of the Lord is perfect…
The Statutes of the Lord are trustworthy…
The percepts of the Lord are right…
The commands of the Lord are radiant…
The ordinances of the Lord are sure…”
But we look at the Word of God and we think, “some parts are more perfect than others. Some passages are more trustworthy than other passages.”
We open the Bible and we pick and choose, in just the same way that I picked out what I wanted to eat at my favorite restaurant back in college – not whether or not it was good for me or not – not whether or not it is perfect, or trustworthy, or right – but whether or not this part of God’s Word appeals to me or not.
In the New Testament lesson from James, the apostle was struggling with a church that was accepting part of God’s Word, but not all of it.
The Word of God speaks very plainly about how we should love our neighbor as ourselves – and that means ALL of our neighbors. But in the church that James was addressing in our New Testament Lesson, the Christians were willing to love SOME of their neighbors – as long as they were wealthy, powerful, and influencial.
But James tells them they cannot show favoritism in love. They have to love all people. And James goes onto say that you cannot show favoritism with the Bible – you must observe ALL of the Word of God.
Elsewhere in the New Testament the Apostle Paul writes in a letter to his coworker, Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed – which means inspired by God -- and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16)
But you see, what we do is to look at the Bible and say, “SOME of the Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
In the Old Testament lesson, the Psalmist wrote a wonderful song in which he was very plain in his respect for the Word of God.
“The Law of the Lord is perfect…”
Well, I run into people all of the time who tell me that they don’t go to church or believe in God, and they tell me, “Everybody knows the Bible is full of errors.”
To which I will always reply, “Oh really. That’s interesting. Tell me some of these errors.”
Without failing, everytime I have this conversation the other person will stutter and stammer and finally say, “Well, I don’t know what they are personally, but everyone knows the Bible is full of mistakes.”