“I’m starving.” -Americans, all the time.
“Everything hurts and I’m dying.” -Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
“I need coffee in an IV.” -Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
What do these quotes have in common? They are all exaggerations. They are taking simple statements, such as “I’m hungry,” or “I’m sore,” and stretching them into something extraordinary.
We hear exaggerations constantly; in the media, in pop culture, and we say them ourselves. These statements are harmless, right? Everyone knows that you’re not actually dying.
But our tendency to exaggerate the normal could actually be undermining the message of the gospel.
In the For the Church blog How Exaggeration Can Undermine Your Joy in the Gospel, author and pastor Erik Raymond writes that we love the ability to round-up through exaggeration. But if we claim “everything is awesome, then nothing is.”
He says, “First, exaggeration diminishes our perception of reality. And second, exaggeration dulls our sense of the spectacular. We are always inflating or deflating with our exaggeration.”
We have become so used to the idea of sensationalizing everything, that the Bible seems less amazing that it did thousands of years ago.
Raymond demonstrates this through the story of Noah. In Genesis 6:6 we read, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Mankind was evil all the time. This is not an exaggeration. We want to brush this off like the overstatements we are so accustomed to today, but the Bible does not exaggerate. It is the Truth. Mankind was evil and God’s perfect creation had turned wicked.
Later we read, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8)
Raymond writes, “That’s a big but right there. Like other conjunctions at key points of the Bible (cf. Eph. 2.4), this is a statement of contrast. It is like the waves of judgment being pushed back so that God’s people could be saved. It is grace. And grace is always amazing.”
In our “everything is awesome” world, we have forgotten how amazing grace truly is.
We, like Noah, have found favor in the eyes of the Lord. We receive God’s grace “because Jesus was blotted out for us. God does not withhold the strokes that justice demands of us, no, he gives them in full measure to Christ instead.”
“If you think the Bible’s portrayal of sin is exaggerated then you will think its statements about grace are overstated. Friends beware of letting the air out of the grace of God while inflating your own goodness. Our culture of exaggeration aids and abets this and we must fight against it,” Raymond writes.
How do we fight it? Remember the difference between cultural exaggeration and the timeless Truth that is the Word of God.
Crosswalk.com contributing writer Debbie McDaniel lists these eight verses that remind us our deepest joy comes from the One who also granted us grace. McDaniel also offers the following prayer seeking God and His grace:
At the start of each day, help us to recognize you above all else. Enlighten the eyes of our heart that we might see you, and notice how you're at work through our lives. Give us wisdom to make the best choices, fill us with a desire to seek after you more than anything else in this world. Let your Spirit and power breathe in us, through us, again, fresh and new. Thank you that you are greater than anything we may face in our day. Thank you that your presence goes with us, and that your joy is never dependent on our circumstances, but it is our true and lasting strength, no matter what we're up against. We ask that your peace lead us, that it would guard our hearts and minds in you. We ask for your grace to cover our lives this day. We love you Lord… we need you.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Publication date: July 15, 2016