Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
~James 1:22-24 NIV~
In a recent discussion with some ladies at my church, the question came up about the significance of blood as sacrifice. We spent several moments pondering why the sacrifice of blood has been so special. Of course, we all could relate to the fact that blood is a driving force in our bodies and as such, bears great enough significance to warrant being used for the purpose of sacrifice. We also understand the parallels between the sacrifice of animals during the earlier books in the Bible versus the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Himself in the New Covenant. But why blood? Why was it necessary to shed blood at all? My questions about this may be quite different from those presented by others in the group I was talking with, but generally, I think we all had questions about why the blood would be the thing? How can we effectively witness to others and get them to understand why we are Christians if we don’t fully understand why God used the blood in this way? Ultimately, we had to concede, as in most things, that God knows why this is so and we just have to be content with not knowing some things. We have to have faith in the importance of sharing what we have learned about the blood and its importance even when we may not be able to answer all of the questions someone may have about it. In other words, our duty is to believe in what He has said in His word and to help others see it, know it and believe it. The operative word here, of course, is help.
It is not our job to tell others what we think it all means and expect that they would process it in the same way we do. It is not our job to interpret the Word and then presume that our interpretation is the one that stands out as wholly correct among all others. We can know that we know that we know and still know the wrong things. No, our job is to provide others with the resources to take it all in and examine it in the context of their own lives, synthesize it with the God they are hearing with their own ears and understand it based on the manifestations of their knowledge and application in their own lives. The outcomes will not be the same for any two believers. He has a unique path for each of us and no matter how much we want to match up with someone, that’s not His intention. We must not look at our fellow believers and assume that they are not walking their walk in the way He intends for them to walk it. We must not get all tangled up in our own understanding of things and apply an overlay of our plan to someone else’s. That’s not walking in Christ’s image; that’s walking along with mirror in hand while we admire our own reflection.
So, our understanding of the blood and the importance of the blood will only truly make sense to us. For example, I was telling the ladies as we discussed this point that my context as it relates to blood revolves around several traumatic miscarriages and an incident where I bled out after a medical procedure. For years, blood was such an ever-present and frightening reality that I couldn’t process anything that was going on in my life without reliving the fears and the pain that came with the presence of that blood. Ironically, those very incidents would serve to lead me down a path where I ran headlong into my Savior and decided that I had been running away from Him long enough. Praise God!
Now whether or not everyone I talk to believes that my experiences impacted me as profoundly as I claim they did remains to be seen. And quite frankly, there have been times during my own walk when someone has shared a testimony and I’ve wondered to myself whether they were being genuine or not. It hit me today, however; that this is one of the biggest places where I falter as a believer. In not believing the testimony of some, I have effectively made myself their judge. How dare I question someone else’s feelings about the experiences they are having in their life. To go even further, consider that some people we know are still in the middle of dealing with the things that will later become their testimony and when we question their dedication to fixing what we perceive as a stronghold in their life, again we become their judge instead of their support. I’m not saying we should believe everything we hear, as we know that the devil is a liar and that He works through those whom he has possession to shake the faith of those whose eyes have been opened. I’m saying that we need to stop thinking that God has created us in such a way that there would be one, cookie-cutter reality that He finds acceptable and right for each person. I’m saying that we need to stop questioning God’s plan for others. There are those whom He means to have experiences that others would shy away from. Some were meant to be harlots, adulterers, thieves, blasphemers, murderers, saints, etc. And through each of them, He will show Himself working in all His magnificent glory to prove that each and every one of His creation is worthy to be called His child.
If we spend our lives doubting the capacity of others to change, we discount God’s power and how it can be applied in the lives of those who struggle. And in doing so, we doubt His capacity to work in our own lives. Perhaps the point He is trying to make is that we cannot have faith in Him if we are unable to have faith in one another. If we are to be a reflection of Him, how can we do so if we hate one another for not being a reflection of ourselves?