On my way home from church today, I ran into a couple of college guys doing street evangelism. I was wearing my cornerstone T-shirt, so they stopped me to ask if I had ever heard of God the mother in the Bible. I told them I had heard of God the mother, but certainly hadn’t seen it anywhere in the Bible. Then they asked if they could show me.
I didn’t have anywhere to be, so I consented. They proceeded to take me through a few different places in the Bible where they said this belief was evident. It mostly had to do with Scripture verses wherein the bride of Christ or the bride of God was referred. They also shared with me something else they considered critical to salvation: worshipping God on the seventh day, that is, Saturday, not Sunday, and taking Passover (not communion).
First of all, the bride of Christ is mentioned many places in the Bible, and it’s specified over and over to mean the church (that is, the whole body of believers). Second of all, the passages were taken out of context and interpreted in ways totally different than the rest of Scripture.
We debated about it for about twenty minutes, and, as was the design, I got somewhat flustered about being preached at and outnumbered. Actually, it wasn’t really a debate—it was them pontificating at me while I objected. The tough thing was, I knew I wasn’t going to change their minds, and they weren’t going to change mine. Not to mention, theirs was an argument that was hard to neatly and efficiently rebut: it was full of a thousand little deviations and misinterpretations that led to a final result that was way off of what was intended. Instead of being able to clearly point to the one fatal flaw of their argument, we were left debating vital details, as is often the case.
They invited me to a Bible study at the end of our conversation. All issues of cultish theology aside, I don’t think I would have gone if we had agreed. If I’m invited to a church or a Bible study, I want to be invited because someone cares about me and wants to share the truth with me, or maybe just wants to get to know me. These guys did not give a darn about who I was; they just wanted to outwit me, debate me into submission, and bring me to church to see how wrong I was all along. I love debates and conversations. I do not like being preached at.
There was no, “let’s talk about this over coffee.” There was no, “hey, what’s your major? Where do you go to school?” They didn’t so much as ask my name or give me theirs. I’m willing to debate theology to no end—I think it’s fascinating. But if you’re talking to me for the sole reason of proving me wrong, I’m not interested.
The real issue, though, was that they were missing the point. If you read the Bible, does it read like a book whose central points are recognize God as male and female and worship Him (them?) on the correct day? No! The Bible is a love story—the story of God creating us, us falling, and Him redeeming us through His death and resurrection and restoring our world, our faith, and our selves. The Bible is about God’s love for us, and the fact that we need to share His redemptive love with each other, because we all need to be redeemed.
I got nervous and frustrated that I couldn’t articulate my arguments more at the time, but you know what? God doesn’t need my protection. He doesn’t need me to save Him from other people’s misinterpretations of His word. God can take care of Himself, and what’s more, He takes care of me.
Walking away from that encounter, I was a little shaken. I almost prayed for safety, for respite from conversations like that. But no. That’s not really what I want. So I prayed that He would could keep stretching me, keep making me uncomfortable, keep pulling me to Himself, but also watch over me. Because those guys are missing the point, but I want to make sure that I don’t miss it, too.