Sunday, March 01, 2009

Earthly and Heavenly Good

Recently one of my "facebook friends" posted as her status something regarding people who are "so heavenly-minded that they're no earthly good." I kind of think I know a few people like that...a very few. But I think the definition or picture of what that phrase means sort of depends on who is saying it. The first time I heard that phrase, the woman was giving me a sidelong glance to indicate she was meaning I had fallen into that category. And I would be surprised if a lot of people wouldn't think so of me. What good might I be to them? Some would say, none. And I don't know whether to apologize for that or not.
I suspect that this phrase is mostly used by those who aren't living out their faith, and who see people who are trying to do so as annoying. When I think of the few who I would categorize as too heavenly-minded, I think of some women who have so much time to ponder the Scriptures (a good thing) that they can't relate to the struggles everyone else has in daily life. They're older ladies, whose husbands left them long ago, who have no children at home. They get into the jots and tittles of Scripture, perhaps down to what every Hebrew letter means in and of itself, and therefore what the meaning of those individual letters might mean in combination when written in a word...I don't know if you've ever seen anyone do this, but I have, and it was laborious and not that edifying. In fact, I wasn't sure that it was scriptural in the least. These women had too much time for things that don't matter a hill of beans in this world, when their time would have been better spent doing wash for women with new babies, or visiting someone in prison or in the hospital, or making a meal for someone, or praying...something of that sort. Then there are men who read books of Bible prophecy, written by men who have prophecied things that didn't come true, or books about how the arrangement of the Hebrew letters make fantastic prophetic patterns...stuff that Jesus never intended for us to read into the Scriptures. These people also tend to lack a concept of the full counsel of Scripture, and lean far to one side or another in their interest and interpretation. When study of the Scriptures dwells more on unnecessary details than on how to live according to God's will, reach the lost, pray without ceasing, forgive offenders, love the unloveable, be content, be good stewards...then there is a problem. Until we have those harder things mastered, we don't really have time for which way each jot and tittle turns. And I suspect it takes a lifetime to master the harder things...
But there are those whose lives may not seem on the surface to be useful to those around them, who might be living just as God prescribes. Perhaps you can read the Bible too much, or pray too much, isolate yourself for the sake of meditation too much; but I have never known anyone to do these things. If someone did so and therefore neglected ministering personally to the people around him, then he might be overdoing it; he might actually be making prayer or Bible study into an idol of its own sort. Have you ever seen it happen? I'm not sure that I have. I would guess there are more of us who don't do so enough! Perhaps we all tend more to be so earthly-minded that we're no heavenly good. That's the extreme that I suspect is more of a problem. And if you say I am, I will say, I stand convicted. That is why I need a Savior who loves me and has given me so much grace. That is why I need to study and pray and learn to love God more and serve Him better...and love you more and serve you I can be earthly and heavenly good. It's a hard balance to make, and a lifetime learning it.

No comments: