Make sure every word serves Someone


The words you choose "Gotta serve someone" (Happy 70th, Bob Dylan)

Continuing the exploration of personal purpose in Scripture … This week, God gives us purpose when we speak.

Of course, given that these were the texts I would be sharing, it had to happen that I spent part of this afternoon enthralled by [that’s a medieval technical term for allowing myself to be spiritually possessed by] some gossip that was going around the office. I didn’t just listen; I added to.

At least all you know is that I failed God. My coworker knows the content of my failure, and we further corrupted each other thereby.

This is serious stuff. I’m a big believer that God has no choice but to inhabit cracked pots. Not a one of us is perfect and not a one of us will be perfect this side of heaven.

But I’m not so sure God’s pleased when we start driving wedges and icepicks and screwdrivers and crowbars into each others’ cracks, prying them further open. The apostle Paul spoke to this very subject in a letter to the believers at Rome:

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? … When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? (Romans 6: 15  and following)

Paul’s writing seems awfully “black-and-white” to us. But here’s the core of what he’s saying. In the words of Bob Dylan (Happy 70th, Bob!) “You gotta serve someone.” And in the spiritual world, while you certainly can pick more than one, if you want to choose the LORD, the God of Abraham and Sarah, and all the rest, then that’s the one and only God you get to choose.

Speaking for a moment as a writer, I think there’s a reason God chose the writers of scripture God chose, and the times God chose. It’s — in part — because God needed the metaphors those times would provide. Living in western democracies, we “don’t get” what it means to be a slave to righteousness. When we think of Jesus leading us in triumphal procession, we imagine a Fourth of July parade — not a new master leading out the people who have begged him for liberation from an oppressor and promised to do anything … ANYTHING!! … in return.

That’s who we are. And one of the things I promised him in gratitude for my liberation was that I would speak well of others. I screwed up today.

When is it hardest for you to keep from (inappropriately) running off at the mouth?

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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