Presbyterian

WE ARE DIFFERENT  

Devotion For Every Wednesday

Ways to Understand the Word of God . . . 

American politics were divided in June, 1858, between Reform Liberalism and Utilitarian Liberalism (UL) over the slavery system. The debate between Abraham Lincoln, Liberalist and Stephen Douglas, UL were defining moments in American history over what freedom is about.

Lincoln and Douglas both explained how freedom should be achieved from their own point of view. Douglas said, "If people in the West want slavery, let them have slavery." He believed freedom is what the white majority wanted. His position was for the summing of preferences for a certain group of people.

However, to Lincoln, freedom is morally justified by doing justice for all humanity. He opposed the extension of slavery to the territories in the West - each individual living in a society that has a common good, rather than legislating on behalf of each individual's own good. Quoting from Lincoln's famous speech, "House Divided in Springfield, Illinois, in 1858,  he said, "I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."

Both of them were seeking the truth of implementing freedom in this country.  Their pursuit was limited either by one's own ideology or by one's own motivation for the common good for all people.  

How we understand the Word of God could be initiated by these same interpretations. Self-interest is inherently visible in the way we interpret the Scripture. We can see, intentional or not, what we prefer to see for our own gratification. "Our own" is always producing prejudiced meanings drawn from the stories of the Bible.

This is why we quiet ourselves and seek for the Spirit to enlighten our inner-self to discern the Scripture from the Lord's point of view for both individuals and the public.

  • Is this word good for both me and others?
  • Or, is it just for the sake of my own interest?


Asking this question while reading the Scripture would help us not to be confined by our unrealistic ideology, fixed views on life, and biased sense of who we are. In that sound practice, we can learn the objective lesson that the Spirit would teach us, and would also discern what specific message He has for our own sake.

 

These devotions were written by Jay on every Wednesday.  You can read his weekly devotion in the weekly E-newsletter.