Step Away from the Red Pen
I love editing. I love taking something that is good (or, in some cases, not so good), and making it better. I love taking out elements that distract and adding elements that enhance. I love untangling piles of words and ideas and rearranging them into fluid thoughts.
But sometimes I get into such a rhythm when I edit that it’s like I’m on autopilot – instinctively untwisting words and shuffling ideas around a page.
It was in this trance-like state that I found myself editing the Bible. Not on purpose, mind you. The verse was woven into the lesson I was working on, and I had added a comma and changed two words before I realized the sentence was directly from Scripture. I set my red pen down and rubbed my eyes. Really, Amy? Did you just do that?
How often do I do that in life, though? Take God’s Word and add a claim here, cut a command there, rearrange some thoughts and – voila – a customized gospel that better fits my desires. We’ve all done it, and it usually looks something like this:
- Don’t gossip. I’m not gossiping, I’m venting.
- Forgive. I did forgive her; I’m just reiterating my point so she knows why I was upset.
- Don’t lie. It’s not lying; it’s just part of the job – anything to make a sale.
- Love. I am loving, but she was walking all over me and I had to defend myself.
- Don’t steal. It’s not stealing. My friend bought the CD; I’m just making a copy.
- Be patient. I am patient, but that waitress was slow and we were running late.
Sometimes our edits are calculated – we rearrange God’s truth and project our own agenda onto Him to justify our actions and responses. Sometimes they are more mindless – a numbed acceptance that treats culture’s voice as synonyms with God’s. Both are wrong. Both are sin.
So what if we really accepted God’s Word as truth and expected to receive radical freedom from radically obeying Him? What if, instead of relying on our own revisions, we acknowledged God’s sovereignty and clung to His Word alone? What would it look like if we all set down our red pens and simply admired the work of the true Author – the One who has written our names on His hands and asks us to follow Him?