In our preaching series We are shaped by the Word, we made a few important distinctions.
The Spoken Word of God in the Beginning is an important place to start (Genesis 1-3). Why? Well, the earliest "memories" we have of the redeeming God that created the universe, called out a peculiar people to live as his representatives, and sent the Son for the purpose of atonement ("at-ONE-ment"--so we could be in ONe union with God) set everything in motion with WORDS. God's words created. They gave life. They gave "nothingness" substance and the substance meaning and purpose. The beauty of these strong statements is that they can all be stated in present tense: God's Word creates, gives life, and gives purpose and meaning (John 10).
IF WE ARE A PEOPLE SHAPED BY THE WORD, THEN WE MUST BE PEOPLE THAT TAKE SERIOUSLY (AND ARE SHAPED BY) THE POWER OF GOD'S VOICE IN HISTORY AND THE POWER OF GOD'S VOICE TO GIVE LIFE TODAY.
The Living Word is also a "word" that is important to Christians. John, in the first chapter of his Gospel says that The Word, was with God (and was God) in those first miraculous moments of creation and with flesh to "dwell among us". Of course, the Living Word was our Lord Jesus. But John says more in chapter one. He tells us that the Word was light in a dark world, offered freedom through belief, and opened up a chance for us to be adopted into the Family of God (v12).
Now that all sounds a little "in the clouds", so let's say it like this: The intentionality and love, power and grace that motivated and moved God to create and give life in the beginning was completely and perfectly embodied in one persons: Jesus Christ. So God's Living Word is Christ, offering life and light to this world.
IF WE ARE A PEOPLE SHAPED BY THE WORD, THEN WE MUST BE PEOPLE SHAPED BY THE VERY LIFE, DEATH, AND MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST. HE MUST DEFINE AND DIRECT WHO WE ARE!
Of course the Word also refers to the Written Word we know as scripture. I love Psalm 119 because I think it richly and poetically captures the effects of the Written Word on someone who reads, wrestles, and meditates on it. The Written Word 1) gives guidance in perilous times, 2) leads to fulfillment and meaning in life, and 3) ignites in us a passion for faithfulness.
The Written Word, unfortunately, seems most often wielded for fighting, as though it was written to win arguments. That misses the purpose. Along with the three points above, the Written Word is the story of God's creation and redemption. As believers, we are invited to dive in, ask hard questions, wrestle with challenging mandates, meditate and pray over poetry and portraits, and continually be shaped into agents for that redemption--God's kingdom.
By participating and being shaped by the Word (don't forget the other meanings of the Word) we become more Word-like--our lives become stories of grace and redemption, offering life, healing, and adoption into God's family to those around us.
IF WE ARE A PEOPLE SHAPED BY THE WORD, OUR LIVES WILL BEGIN TO LOOK LIKE GOD'S LIFE-GIVING WORD.
Always in grace,