Three little words seem so simple…”Word of God.” But the truth is, those three words have created division and dissension in so many ways.
What is the “Word of God”? And does it make a difference if I write “word” or “Word”?
Some believe that the Bible is literally “the words of God”, dictated and written down…true for all cultures, times, and situations.
Others believe that the Bible contains “the word of God”…records of humanity’s interaction with the Divine, but also impacted by a specific culture, time, and situation. That is a belief that resonates with me.
But there’s another way to see those three words. The Gospel of John begins by saying that the Word (capital W) has existed from the beginning…and that at a specific time in history became flesh and lived among us.
There’s a hymn that starts out this way:
Word of God, come down on earth,
living rain from heaven descending;
touch our hearts and bring to birth
faith and hope and love unending.
Word almighty, we revere you;
Word made flesh, we long to hear you.
If Jesus was indeed the “Word of God”–the Divine incarnated so that we could experience that incredible love and acceptance–then the Bible is a record of that incarnation…and a challenge to us.
So how did people experience that Word? As the hymn says, he touched hearts, bringing to birth faith, hope, and unending love…at least for those who heard him.
He preached and taught…healed…sat at table with both the “in” folks and the outcasts…
What was most important to him? According to the three synoptic gospels, this: to love God with all one’s being and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
So…for me, the (W)word of God can be found in the Bible…in the life of Jesus…and in living the faith, hope, and unending love that we allow to be born in us.