Monday, 24 September 2012

DANGER OF CHERRY PICKING

When we select portions of scripture which are attractive and agreeable to us, we are distorting the truth.

                                                               
                                                                

The closest I ever got to experiencing “cherry picking” was when I was on a holiday. Together with other tourists, we gingerly positioned ourselves in between the long rows of strawberry shrubs. Naturally we picked the biggest, ripest and most luscious fruits we could find. Those tiny ones, which were still green, were left behind. Soon we were on our way again on the tour bus, most delighted with own bag of freshly picked strawberries.

All is well when we are merely selecting fruits. However, if we pick and choose from scripture what we think is good for us – and ignore those parts we deem are harsh, demanding and objectionable – we will be getting a distorted view of the intended message.

Naturally we prefer the image of a loving and merciful God over that of a holy God who will one day judge us for our sins. Humanly speaking, we want Him to constantly bless and forgive us, no matter how many times we sin against Him.

When we entertain only the attractive and agreeable attributes of God in our minds, we are actually creating our own god, which is tantamount to idolatry.

Love and mercy are important attributes of God. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive and chose us while we were yet sinners. He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. 
But He is also a God of justice and righteousness. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). He is the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah as well. He who once rode on a colt as a man is now ensconced on His heavenly throne as the King of Kings.
He may be a tender daddy (Romans 8: 15) and a close friend (John 15: 15). But He is also a Holy God, a consuming fire, to be feared and revered (Hebrews 12:29). 


                                                                       
It is wise not to “cherry pick”. Tozer warns: "Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. We just cannot select portions of scripture that our “itching ears” want to hear. We should not just highlight the agreeable parts and downplay the harsh truth in scripture.



                                                                 

A most serious warning to anyone who attempts to tamper with God’s word – whether adds or deletes its contents – is found in Revelation 22:18-19: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

By dwelling on the whole Bible, we do not focus on half-truths or emphasise one truth at the expense of another equally fundamental truth. 

Paul left an example for all who teach and preach God’s word. Addressing the elders at Ephesus, he said that he did not shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).


                                                                             
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Harbouring an image of God that is attractive and agreeable has its dangers



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