Back in Indiana, our church was close to two other Brethren churches, so every so often, like once a year, we'd swap pastors for a Sunday...no I'll just leave it at that...and I ended up in Muncie, Indiana (where Close Encounters of the Third kind is set BTW) on a Sunday where I wasn't really feeling that well--high temp, kind of rung out. My message was from Proverbs about the importance of the Bible, and I was nearly done when a lady in the group raised her hand. That hadn't happened to me a lot at that point (we're a little more interactive now), and I thought, well, ok, what is it? She said, "I just wanted to say that i really don't agree with what you said earlier." Yikes! So, against my better judgment, I waded into that, and asked her what she didn't agree with, and she said, "You said that if your wife doesn't agree with you that you should get rid of your wife, and I just don't think that's right!" Double Yikes.
Now, remember, I wasn't feeling too well, so I immediately thought, Am I so delirious that I said something like that? I really was at a loss, so I assured her that if I did say that I didn't mean it, and then just tried to finish before I blundered into some other small, minor heresy.
I was shaking hands at the back afterwards (this was one of those pretty traditional kinds of churches), and trying to avoid all the wives while all the husbands were slapping me on the back and offering to buy me a drink...ok, that part's not true...when a teenage girl came up to me and said, "I know what you said." First I was astounded that a teenager was actually listening to me (as I still am!). She said, "You didn't say that if your wife disagrees with you that you should change your wife, you said that if your LIFE disagrees with the Word of God, you don't change the word, you change your LIFE." (It's actually pretty good that the lady asked her question, imagine if she'd gone through life thinking that was what I'd said. We cleared that up.) What a relief!
The reason that story came to mind was this whole ten commandment thing we're looking at and how God is describing for us what life should be like, how he created us. What I find is that I am really good at rationalizing my behavior against what the commands say. I don't want to change my life, I want to change the scope or meaning of the Word. Instead, we should be wanting to bring our lives in line with what God has established for us. Philip Yancey, in "What's So Amazing About Grace" tells the story about a man walking into the dressing room of the actor W.C. Fields and finding him reading the Bible. Fields was embarrassed that he'd been caught and muttered, "Just looking for loopholes." I guess if God's heart for us was to be mean and stern and take away enjoyable and pleasurable activities, then we might want to find a loophole. But if he really does love us, and he really wants us to be safe and whole and healthy, then maybe our loopholes are really still just deception.
And I just got to say it's a good thing Ann hasn't disagreed with me all these years!