Scissors frequently go missing in our home. I presume that they run off with the rebellious socks who flee their matches and the Tupperware lids who jilt their respective containers. This morning, I found my adult hands forced into a pair of barely metal safety scissors trying to cut through thick cardboard. Safety scissors really don’t do much; while they have the shape of scissors, they are not sharp enough to do the work scissors are intended to do.
My harrowing experience with the safety scissors this morning got me thinking about theology. Safety scissor theology tells us the promises of God without the commands, offers easy-believism, Jesus as the top-off to an already existing life. Like safety scissors, such threadbare theology shares a common shape with Biblical theology, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t hold up under suffering, and it cannot cut through the hard places of our hearts.
I actually saw a bumper sticker the other day in traffic that perfectly summed up what this safety scissor theology: Add Jesus, written in the form of the Adidas symbol.
Just add Jesus to your current life, put Christ as the cherry on top of your search for satisfaction. Come to the Word when you want and find a promise that you can just add onto your life like a Girl Scout pin.
I know Safety Scissor theology well, because in my flesh, it was what I look for and what I want to offer to people around me. As prompted by the bumper of the car in front of me, I want to add Jesus to finish off what is lacking and attach pretty promises to life.
But the Word of God is not a la carte, and Jesus is not safe. When we submit to God’s Word, which St. Augustine called the humble door, we put our whole lives under its authority.
We don’t get to pick and choose. We are called to prize its commands and its promises. We are not allowed to selectively choose the parts of our lives to which Jesus has access. We don’t get to come with a contract and have Jesus sign on the line after our demands for ease or security or comfort or safety.
While I know this for my own life, I find resistance when it comes to the lives of my children. I want them to know the Word, but I am hesitant to let the sharp edges of the Word of God and Jesus, the living Word, wreck their lives in love. I want them to know Him, but I often want to protect them from the suffering, pain, discipline and struggle that will likely be God’s handmaidens, ushering them into His presence.
As much as I cringe when I hear the Christian radio station advertising that safety for the whole family, I cringe even more when I realize that, in my heart of hearts, I often settle for wanting such safety scissor theology for them.
For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13.
These Scriptures are more parts challenging and uncomfortable than safe and comforting.
When we place ourselves under the authority of God and His Word, we will be laid out on his operating table, exposed and naked under the hands of the Wounded Surgeon, as T. S. Eliot called God.
The Wounded Surgeon plies the steel,
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art,
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
(T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets)
The Word of God and the Spirit of God will expose us, will force our lives under the searching and scorching light of God’s holiness. We will not be allowed to simply “Add Jesus” in a safe and comfortable way. The clarion call of the Scriptures and those who have been changed by them is “All Jesus.”
We will be cut and pierced by the Wounded Surgeon. Surgery of the soul will most assuredly hurt us before it heals us. It will not be safe; rather, it will result in a twin salvation and sanctification that will shake our false securities to the core.
However, on the other side of such sharp incisions, we will experience joy, wholeness and health that far exceed a false sense of safety. Safety scissors can’t do much, but the loving knife of the Scriptures in the hands of the Wounded Surgeon can do the impossible. They can make us alive to God, align us with His will and ways in the world and actually make us like Him.