“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
I have been a pastor for about a year and a half now, and what a year it has been. I have spent more time being a pastor in pandemic than I have being a pastor during “normal” times, if there is such a thing. I like to consider myself a “young gun,” a pastor who is fresh, excited, and full of vigor for the ministry. Though I am sure more experienced pastors might just consider me green, innocent, and in for a rude awakening. Both of those things are probably true. It is true that the ministry is exciting; it is a privilege to proclaim God’s Word and be a steward of His good gifts. Yet, it is also true that ministry can be a grind, people have messy lives, sin abounds in shocking ways, death is relentless, and Satan is at work. Nothing prepares you for that. Yet pastors, and all Christians alike, have been given a tool for when Satan prowls around seeking to devour. That tool is God’s living and active Word. I sit here reflecting after a hectic holiday season about life as a pastor so far, and I continue coming back to a thought. I continue to think and reflect on the power of God’s living and active Word.
I have seen the working of God’s Word on people this year. I have seen so many people that have heard it, and who have been convicted, comforted, and transformed by it. God’s Word is living and active after all, and it cuts us. It cuts us deep. It cuts like a surgeon, accurately and precisely. It makes no mistakes, and it finds the disease in us, and cures it. Often, the working of God’s Word in the lives of hearers is glamorized, turned into heart wrenching testimonies that leave onlookers with goose bumps and tears welling in their eyes inspired by God and His work. Yet, as a pastor, even a green one, I have seen behind the scenes of testimony. I have seen the reality of God’s Word at work. While it is sharp, deliberate, and precise, it does not always look this way. More often, the scene behind that beautiful heart wrenching testimony is God’s Word doing its work. But sometimes God’s Word is jagged.
God’s Word does not always feel like a sharp blade cutting between joints of cartilage, but instead it feels like a saw with jagged teeth chewing away at flesh, muscle, and bone. It hacks away at sinners and rips apart their lives before stitching them back together. There are so many shared experiences in the world, stories we have all heard from broken people. Testimonies that no longer shock us. Like the alcoholic who has his 20-year chip, but behind the scenes he was torn to shreds when his marriage was destroyed by Jim Beam. Yet no one sees the tears or hears the arguing screams as children watch. Like the woman who slips into church unnoticed for the first time since she was 15 seeking God’s mercy, who can be found on a Friday night curled on the couch with tears running down her face as she recounts the abortion which she had years ago. Like the divorced couple who seeks reconciliation, but before this moment there were years of infidelity, fighting, and abuse on both sides, and yet God’s Word ripped their pride to shreds. I have read The Jagged Word for a long time, but it is only now that I finally understand what it means. God’s Word kills and makes alive, but death is not painless, often it is excruciating.
Yet while God’s Word rips, tears, hacks, and shreds… It does exactly what it needs in the lives of those who hear it. It calls you to repentance, and delivers the sweet goods of forgiveness. It sews your wounds shut with sutures, it rids you of infection, and it heals you, bringing you who were once bloodied and torn to be spotless and whole. God’s Word might be jagged, but it continues to be what you need, what we all need. It is God’s promise to you, that no matter how painful, you are forgiven. So, go and hear it, receive the goods of God’s mercy through His living and active Word. For while it kills you, it also makes you alive.