the god of the familiar

Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

I was just reading some from the New Living Translation, preparing for an upcoming worship service, and I happened to flip back to the beginning of the book, where there was a note from the publishers. They were attempting to make clear that much effort had gone into making this translation accurate as well as understandable to the modern reader — equally clear now as it was when it was written. They also said they translated entire thoughts rather than word-for-word which I thought was actually a better translation technique. Some feel that you must translate word-for-word in order to be truly accurate, but that’s not the way I would translate a Spanish document to English. I would use similar words (or phrases) to communicate what the speaker/writer was trying to communicate. We have phrases that mean something entirely different from the actual words… and so do the Greek and Hebrew languages.

As I read that, it made perfect sense to me. I rarely use even the NIV anymore. My preferred translation is the New Living Translation… but I also use, The Message, the Contemporary English Version, and any other modern language translation I can get my hands on. Some would say that I am reading watered-down Scripture – or just flat out deny that it is even scripture! An older pastor friend of mine was recently joking with my about my choice of translation… how he wasn’t sure if I was really a Christian, reading that sort of thing… 🙂

But you see, the thing is, we are just much more comfortable with the familiar. There are some people who still think that the King James is the best text just because it was the first English translation. (Some think that the original text was King James! It was actually in Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic…) 🙂 The reason there are so many strong disagreements in churches is that people long to cling to the familiar… in some ways, elevating the familiar to god status – that it is supreme and constant and deserving of our staunchest efforts to preserve it.

The god of the familiar is seen in what translation we can use, what seats we sit in on Sunday morning, what music is acceptable, what apparel may be worn when, and all of the things that get rigidly passed down only to preserve the sense of familiarity.

In fact, God is "the same yesterday, today and forever" but, he is not rigid. He is not mundane. He is familiar in character, but not always in method. He is a living being with a personality. Able to be different in certain instances while his core remains the rock-solid constant that he is.

He is in fact quite adaptable. He is quite personal. He knows how to speak to and love each of us – personally. He does not speak in King James to me. 🙂 Sorry… 🙂

SO, next time you are tempted to stick up for something just cause that’s the way we’ve always done it… just remember that God changes his methods along the way too… and all he really wants is not for people to follow a certain way of doing things – but people who follow Him on The Way.

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