I’m still amazed, amazingly, at how ones approach to scripture can flavor, alter, or completely reverse the meaning of a given passage. I’ve heard countless sermons in institutional churches quoting scripture to defend the very religious system those verses were intended to condemn. An instance that recently came to mind is Isaiah 5:20.
“Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, Who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness, Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
Usually, I’ve heard this applied in a general “church vs. the world” context. Reading the entire passage from a Christ-centered perspective we can begin to see how once again, the love of God has been perverted by religion. True, this section does address “carousing.”
But its stronger focus is on spiritual insensitivity and social injustice. Many often scoff at issues of social injustice, implying them to be of worldly concern. In fact, as I’ve previously stated, these concerns are the gospel. At least they are a large part of Jesus’ focus.
Back to calling “evil” good.
Could it be that once again our Western-world fundamentalist mind-set has clouded our vision? Could it be that the ones condemning the world for calling evil good are those in fact guilty of this crime?
Consider these options:
– When we know that we are God’s house, could referencing any brick-and-mortar building as “God’s house” (something not done in the New Testament) be calling evil good?
– Isn’t emphasizing the avoidance of things like smoking and cussing, instead of focusing on how we treat others a form of calling evil good, and good evil?
– Is it possible that the very concept of a “just war” is calling evil good?
– And when we kill our enemies in the name of God and country, might that be calling evil good? Hey, I’m just asking you to consider the possibility.
– Are all the intensely “grace-a-phobic” religious people calling evil good when they relish in the idea that those who don’t see things their way are “going to hell”? (Don’t tell me you don’t know these people. They’re very fond of believing that “They’ll get theirs someday!”)
– If the hate-filled, sign-carrying protesters constantly ignore the fact that, according to Ezekiel 16:49, the true sin of Sodom was the social injustice of ignoring the poor and the needy, are not they the ones actually calling evil good, and good evil, as they oppress our gay brothers and sisters in the Lord?
– Could insisting that old covenant tithing be observed by those under grace be calling evil good?
What other cherished teachings of religious institutions may share this unholy distortion?
I remember when I thought the term “fallen from grace” meant someone was involved in some kind of “gross sin.” It was quite the revelation when I finally understood that, according to Galatians 5:4, “falling from grace” meant living by the law!
Truly, that perversion of the good-news is calling “good” evil.
Like I indicated at the beginning, our preconceived notions bear heavy weight on what “we say ‘God says.'”
Once we begin the journey out of that religiously induced fog of legalism, we are free to start re-thinking our beliefs from a “Christ-centric” approach.
I can guarantee, that as we do this God’s grace will give new birth to our spirits, and new understanding as to what it means to “call evil good.”