Have you ever closely examined a measuring tape? You should because they teach us an important lesson about life–to be more exact–how to live in the way that makes us whole and complete. You didn’t know that? My ESPN just kicked in and someone just thought: “How in the word does a measuring tape do that?” Well, I’m so glad you asked.
An inch is an inch is an inch is an inch. Be it a Stanley Tape Measure, or a DeWalt, or a Milwaukee, or a Lufkin, or a Klein, or a Ryobi, or a Rigid, or one of those cheap store brands. Compare them all, lay them side by side–one inch is the same on all of them–well maybe except those cheap store brands. There might be one that is two one thousands of an inch off–but there is consistency! At least close enough for government work.
If you are building a house, this is a comforting thought–that the architect, all the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, flooring installers, and HVAC folks are all using the same inch for their work. But–and I must throw this out there–WHAT IF the measurements each is using is different from all the others? The carpenter’s tape measure is different from the architect’s–the plumber’s is different from both of those. No one is using the same standard. Your bathroom may end up in a closet, and the master bedroom may be on the front porch. What? Man, my ESPN is really tuned in today.
Someone was just thinking: “That is so preposterous to even think about! There is no way on God’s green Earth that would happen!” And you’re probably right. But–this happens on something far more serious and important than building houses. It happens when people are building their lives. Lives are built upon this thing called ethics. This word comes from the Greek word ethos which means character.
A person’s character can be good–or it can be bad–based on their chosen system of morality. The predominant one today is based on a system originally called Situational Ethics, which, by the way, began as an alleged Christian Teaching (not sure how it qualifies as “Christian” though). The rightness or wrongness of decisions and actions cannot be determined by moral absolutes, but by the situation a person is in. In 1966, this over-educated man by the name of Joseph Fletcher unleashed a firestorm when he brought Situational Ethics into the limelight of academia. Overnight, people had a new way to do what they wanted without interference from those old-fashioned Judeo-Christians morals.
Today it’s called Contextualization. Right and wrong are no longer standardized. It’s about you, your situations, your feelings, your understandings. An inch is no longer an inch across the board. Contextualization is a way to justify disobedience to the long established, tried and proven orthodox values of morality. One is free to pick and choose whatever they like from the Bible–and disregard the parts they don’t like. An inch is no longer an inch. It’s whatever you Contextualize it to be.
I wonder if Paul had a vision of the 21st century when he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.“ Of course, those who love Contextualization would say that it fits for Timothy’s day, but not ours.
The Greek word Paul used for Scripture is graphē and it means something written. For Timothy it would have been what we call The Old Testament. And Paul was confident that The Holy Spirit that opened Paul’s eyes to those Scriptures, would also open Timothy’s eyes. And fortunately for us today, we also have the New Testament.
And there is another Greek word being misused today–Rhema. It literally means an “utterance” or “thing said”. The misuse happens when Contextualization trumps Biblical Values. Rhema is a spoken word. Now, Jesus wasn’t called Rhema by John; He is called Logos–that self existent light of truth. Human Rhema does not have the power nor authority to override Scripture. While the proponents of Contextualization consider themselves Rhema, I see them for what they are: Tauros Onthos!*
(*Greek word for bull=tauros Greek word for manure=onthos. That’s all I got to say about that.)