Literally is a word that has been overused. Rather than describing something that has truly happened, it is used more often as a metaphor. “My arm hurt so much carrying those boxes, it literally fell off.” Well, actually it didn’t. My arm is still attached.
The true, original definition of literally is exactly and accurately — and does not even include one hint of exaggeration.
Ok. Funny story about someone who took what I said literally (or she was simply having a bad day. Not sure which).
I was flying to an Awana conference to share tips about encouraging leaders and that sort of thing. My seat was on the aisle, then there was an empty seat and the third window seat was occupied by a lady who looked kind of like me — about my age and taking a business trip.
I don’t usually drink much when I’m flying, but that day my mouth was especially dry, so when the flight attendant came with her cart, I asked for a half cup of Sprite.
Yes. That’s it. A half cup of Sprite.
Easy request. Right?
Very deliberately, the flight attendant took out a Styrofoam cup and with her fingernail making indentations into the foam all around the cup, cut off the top half. She then poured the Sprite and handed the ripped cup to me with a curt “Is that what you wanted?” She was not joking and I was too shocked to do more than nod my head. Meanwhile the lady next to me was crazily laughing. “WHAT was that about she asked?”
I shrugged, “I have no idea, but feel free to share the story with your friends.”
“Oh, I will,” she said.
That flight attendant took me literally.
(By the way, on the return flight, I asked the flight attendant for the very same thing, very same wording. She poured me half a cup and handed it to me — no cutting it in half with a fingernail.)
We are to take the Bible literally. Yes, there are word pictures and parables, but we DO know the difference. Discerning the difference is NOT that hard. We read Psalm 23 and understand that we aren’t really lying down in a green pasture — that is a word picture of God’s comfort.
When Christ says He is the truth, that means He IS the truth — not fiction, not myth, not a made-up fantastical story.
When Christ says He is the only way to heaven. That means He is the ONLY way to heaven in spite of all the arguments we hear in today’s culture that what you believe doesn’t matter as much as simply believing.
When Christ says something is a sin, then that something is a sin. Our world hasn’t changed to accommodate new nuances of sin. A sin is a sin.
Yet, we are raising/teaching children in this culture. We need to emphasize that our God is the true God, and we must take what He says literally.
John 4:24 —God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 14:6 — Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 17:17 — Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
Romans 2:20 — For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Romans 1:18 — For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Romans 2:8 — But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 — For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
One way we can teach kids that Christ is the ONLY Way, the Truth, and the Life is by doing just that — teaching them that Christ is the ONLY Way the Truth, and the Life. Because sometimes we’re so focused on what color to paint the children’s room walls, or what kind of candy to get for Trunk or Treat night, or whether to serve goldfish or cheerios as a snack — that we forget to focus on the basics.
We must WORSHIP in spirit and in truth.
We must REMEMBER that God’s Word is truth (to be taken literally).
We must KNOW that Christ is the ONLY Way, the Truth and the Life.
And we must teach our kids.
We must teach them to take the Bible literally …
As literally as the flight attendant who truly gave me a half cup of Sprite.