Rev. Jonathan Yarboro

Greetings from the corner of Bridge and Bridge. We are beginning the process of rebuilding our church facility here at First Presbyterian. We hope to have a rebuilt sanctuary, offices and classrooms open for business in a year’s time. Thanks to everyone for the continued prayers and support.

I spend a lot of my time with the written word of God. Weekly Bible Study, worship preparation and teaching events of many varieties keep my nose in the Bible, so to speak. I have the privilege of inviting numerous voices to my studies. The more viewpoints considered, the fuller the resulting revelation of God’s word.

One of my favorite mentors for preaching and teaching is Fred Craddock, professor emeritus of preaching and New Testament at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. I first encountered him at a preaching conference in Knoxville during my first year in seminary. I was immediately taken with his calm, quiet and powerful manner of sharing the gospel.

Dr. Craddock told the gathered crowd he had taken on a particular identity in his ministry. He said, “I decided that I was going to reclaim words God created from those who have co-opted and changed them.” He provided several examples, which included fairness, righteousness and wisdom, just to name a few.

The motive behind this action was clear. Dr. Craddock pointed out God put many things into place at the time of creation. Humankind has consistently adopted many of those things and altered them to fit human purposes rather than God’s. Ministry, according to Dr. Craddock, consists of reclaiming things on God’s terms.

There are a few words and terms currently wreaking havoc in the earthly kingdom. They dominate headlines, public discourse and social media feeds. They cause deep division among the inhabitants of the earthly kingdom. They do not come from God.

Violence, hatred, bigotry, division and self-righteousness are among the list of words that do not come from God. The Bible addresses these words but every child of God must recognize where the words originate. They do not originate with God.

Don’t take my word for it or the word of anyone I include in my preparations for ministry. Go back and read the opening of the Bible. It does not matter which translation you read. They all tell the same story.

It is faithful in the study of the Word of God to attempt to fill in the blanks. Speculating about details the text itself does not spell out can be an exercise in faith if approached properly. As long as that speculation does not result in altering what the text does say, it is faithful.

There are dangerous and damaging words all around us. These words often come from the mouths of those the general public looks to for guidance. Whenever those words begin to lead anyone away from gospel truth, they must be abandoned, regardless of the source.

Put another way, anytime any child of God hears someone advocating for violence or hatred, for example, there is only one way to respond in faith. Violence and hatred never originate with God. Do we understand the words that do come from the mouth of God? I believe we do. Those are the ones we need to be paying attention to.

Rev. Yarboro is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Wetumpka.