The Marathon Explosions and How to Kill and Maim with the Bible

In the wake of yesterday’s blasts, we’ve all heard lots of words: words of shock, words of hope, 

words looking for the good within evil, 

and too many words of accusation and conspiracy. 

Some people find dark, pathetic comfort in believing Americans and the government are blowing up their own people.  These people believe in the power of words. They believe that truth will set us free. They believe their truths are the real truths, and they will be heroes in the end for exposing the vast network of darkness and deception within our own government that threatens our country’s very freedom and existence. 

But those words hurt and harm the already wounded.

Some of those beliefs about word and truth sound so familiar. Are we like this too, we people-of-faith, sometimes?

A little while ago, while out of town, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for many months. I stood in the grocery  line slumping, face to the floor. My makeup was slapdash, my hair unwashed. I was so weary with mothering that week, that day. The routine of piano lessons, homework, science fairs, lunches, enforcing chores, juggling crises, adolescent meltdowns, successes, losses and phone calls at 2 a.m. can wear a woman down after 24 years. And I have 8 more years of intensive in-house mothering ahead.

Standing there, the friend sees me and exclaims. I perk up. We catch up on life details. One of her kids went to school with one of mine. We fill in their lives for one another. Then, I share my overwhelmed heart. I bleed a little. And here it comes: a sermon. With some scripture thrown in for extra clout. I have to do better. I am not spiritual enough. It’s all meant for my good. We end, laughing, but the small cut I was nursing on my chest is gushing as she leaves. She leaves glowing, certain she has spoken a word of truth to a sister.

The scriptures are compared to a sword. They cut all right. Why do we wield them so carelessly? Her motives were good. She meant to encourage. We’re the exact same age, but her family is much smaller than mine. Hers have been out of the house for years already. Her life is quite free.   The sword in her hand became a dagger.

I’m sure I’ve done worse. But I have a simple plea: Let’s stop doing this to one another. When someone asks for bread, give them bread, maybe even with butter and a hug.  When someone is tired, give a hand, not a sermon. Don’t use scripture as a bat when we need it for a crutch. Give me a fish not a stone.

I don’t care how wise we think we are, or what special word of God or word of faith has been given to us. We must show our wisdom this way: by listening, by really hearing the words and the pain of the other person. Enter into it with them. Cry with them. Love them. Be with them.  Weep with the crying, laugh with the happy.  

To the proud and self-righteous, Christ called them names and pronounced sermons and woes. To the sick, weak, needy, Christ touched with his hands, rubbed mud on their eyes, grasped their wrists and pulled them to their feet, shared dinner with them, spoke blessing and healing. 

What is wrong with us? 

Aren't we schooled enough in the Scriptures to know the difference? 

(Dear God, Forgive me for the times I have handed out stones instead of fish. Even here.)