“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12)
I had the opportunity to minister with art at a home gathering in Clinton, Iowa on Tuesday night. My desire was to deliver a special message from the Lord that specifically blessed the people who would be there that night. And I wanted to leave the family who invited me with a spectacular piece of art that would beautify their walls for years to come. When I was praying before the meeting God showed me this image. I was actually disappointed at first. I complained to God, “But God…it’s so simple…” Then God spoke into my heart, “Yes but it’s SO important!” I’m so grateful that God would use me in this way. He makes things simple for us. We are the ones who try to complicate it all.
In my artwork the sword is the spine of the Bible giving a visual representation of the true nature of this collection of writings. The Bible is often referred to as “The Word” because it is considered the word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
The scripture in Hebrews 4:12 likens the word of God to a powerful weapon that is useful for separating the natural things from spiritual things so that the spiritual battles can be won. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
My personal experiences when reading the Bible resonate the most with the last part of Hebrews 4:12, “…It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” So often when I’m reading I recognize thoughts and desires in my heart that were hidden even from myself until that moment. Just one example of this happened the other day as I was reading in Acts about Stephen’s death.
“Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” (Acts 7:54-60)
As I read this passage my mind placed me in Stephen’s shoes. I saw myself genuinely sharing my heart with these people about the love of God. They began rushing at me screaming while covering their ears trying not to hear my words. These people who I tried to show love to began to mutilate my body with rocks and the entire crowd violently and hatefully murdered me. I was terrified and angry that they would do such an awful thing to me. I am innocent! I only tried to love you! I hated that my life was coming to an end in such a miserable way. It felt like such a waste……….but this was not Stephen’s response to the situation. The crowd violently attacked this innocent young man and he was not afraid or angry. He was merciful. He begged God with his dying breath, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”
What kind of love is that? That is insane!!! Why don’t I love people that much…. How do I come to the place where I can love people more than my own life like Stephen? Even in his last moments he cared for these people’s eternal souls. He genuinely wanted to see his enemies reach heaven’s gates so he could greet them with love. I am now on a journey with God to learn to love people more than my natural ability. Stephen truly was like Christ because he was willing to lay down his life though he was innocent to reach people who were lost in spiritual darkness.
Because of the words I read in the Bible my heart was exposed. My true nature was brought out of hiding so I could seek the Lord for help in my desire to look and act more like Jesus. Even though the spirit dwelling in me says, “look like Jesus and love people like He does” my nature says, “me me me!” In these times of exposure it sometimes does feel like a sword cutting into my soul.