Word and words
Jesus spoke this parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns choked it. Some fell into good soil, and it produced a hundredfold.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “the parable is this: the seed is the Word of God.” – Luke 8:5-11
Have you ever noticed that the Bible is called “the Word of God” (capital “W,” singular) instead of the words of God (lower case “w”, plural)? The distinction is small. The significance is huge.
Even those with a very high view of scripture tend not to claim that God dictated the Bible word-by-word. Rather, the Spirit moved writers to express what God intended through the particular background and perspective of each writer. Therefore, the Bible is not the words of God.
Meanwhile, the “Word of God” has little to do with actual words. The Word is the power and presence of God to which the words of the Bible point. The Word is primary. The words are secondary.
That’s why, when the Gospel of John talks about Jesus as “the Word made flesh,” we don’t imagine a word sprouting arms and legs. Instead, we embrace the mystery of divine power and presence, the Word, wrapped in human flesh.
Likewise, when Jesus talked about sowing the Word, he didn’t mean sowing alphabet-shaped seeds or planting little Bible passages. He wanted to take incarnation to scale by sowing God seeds into every human heart, including yours.
Don’t get too wrapped up in these words. Receive the Word and leave the rest behind.
Holy Word, even though you are beyond description, thanks for so many good words pointing the way.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince available now.