Spiritual Dyslexia: that’s what TV evangelist Andrew Wommack calls a condition that affects so many of us. We hear the Good News but don’t really comprehend it. Keeping up with my own Grace vs. Sin continuum is like watching some eternal, never-ending tennis match. It’s tiring. Some days I’m secure in my salvation and The Father’s love, other days, not so much. Some days I’m dyslexic and feel like if I just sin a little less and try a little harder I can work my way into eternal life.
So what is spiritual dyslexia? Well, dyslexia is being able to see the words, and in a sense read them, but not as they really are, but as they appear in the scrambled cognition of the dyslexic’s idiosyncratic neurology—and then, of course, not really being able to comprehend their meaning. Old joke about the dyslexic atheist: He didn’t believe in Dog.
So spiritual dyslexia is reading about God’s grace, forgiveness and love–reading the words well enough, but not comprehending that Jesus paid it all—that God really, really loves us, and that we are home free–that sinning less and doing more good deeds wont change His already to the max love. John 5:24 says it succinctly: “Verily, I say unto you. He that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life.”
Or how about 1st John 4:11-12: “…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life…”
Then there are the two well-know passages from Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:8 and 8:1) that says God loved us while we were yet sinners and gave His Son for us and that because we are in His Son there is no condemnation. Oh, or maybe those were just figures of speech?
And further, that we are precious in His sight because when He sees us He sees His Beloved in whom we have been placed (John 17:21-23): “…Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Well, I go from there to a passage like: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. . .any one who says, “You fool,” will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matt. 5:21-22). Ooh, that be me–and not a bit reassuring.
Or how about Hebrews 10:26-27: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire…” Some days I can practically feel the flames licking the bottom of my feet.
Or this little O.T. gem from Numbers that was sent to me in a devotional: “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you will be sure that your sin will find you out.” (32:23) This verse appeared along with several others supporting this guilt-inspiring “devotional.” It struck me that the point the writer was making was that we were sinners and that we had obligations to the Lord. I get that–and generally don’t find that being reminded I’m a sinner all that encouraging. I don’t think fear and guilt should have anything to do with loving the Jesus within and serving our fellow-man in love.
Generally, I much prefer reading the authors who write about grace–Brennan Manning, Fredrick Buechner, Steve Brown, etc., but some days you’re flipping channels and John Hagee or some other fire and brimstone guy grabs your attention. Or I read a devotional that’s very convicting. Maybe some days I need to hear that. I know there are scholars who can harmonize all the apparent contradictions in scripture. Well, they say that they can and they try mightily. It’s awfully important for some people to have no confusion or ambiguity. I’m pretty good living with ambiguity–maybe that makes me the double-minded man who James warns about, and why I’m so generally freakin’ miserable. But then I have heard the formidable Reformed theologian R. C. Sproul read a passage and say, “I have no idea what that means.” Me, I just get confused. Anyway, I trust the Lord enough to think that if perhaps there is ambiguity and wiggle-room in the Bible it’s because He wanted it that way.
Graham Cooke asks a simple but crucial question when he speaks to groups: “Was Jesus judged enough? Did God pour out every bit of anger and wrath on Jesus? Was Jesus punished enough? If he was not judged and punished enough then none of us are secure in our salvation.”
Another point Cooke raises is that the evangelical church is ineffective when preoccupied with sin and calling down condemnation and judgment on the world. A preoccupation with sin precludes being able to do good in the world–because we know that we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Pre-christians and nominal Christians are not going to be drawn to the Good News in Jesus when we preach to them about sin, judgment and punishment. What is going to impress them is an unwavering focus on the goodness of God, and the grace He showed us in His Son–the perfect love that casts out fear, and that impels us to do good out of gratitude.
But once again there it is, enemy-sent, nipping at our heals: Spiritual Dyslexia. We hear the message about grace, forgiveness, mercy, love–but we don’t really comprehend it.