Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Mark Twain once said the difference between a good word and the right word was the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. I believe he was talking about writing, and anyone who has written anything they cared about knows what he means. A lightning bug is a beautiful thing, and in a group they’re a wonder on a summer evening as they blink in a meadow. Lightning bugs are wondrous and beautiful. But lightning can kill you. And what Twain said about writing or speaking the right word applies also to hearing one. Have you ever needed to hear a word from someone—I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, —and instead got I’m over it, no hard feelings, I like you? The difference between I like you and I love is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. One is really nice—the other could kill you. I suppose it depends on the situation whether liking or loving is the more deadly, but here’s what I’m driving at: the difference between our words and God’s Word is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. Our words, at their best, can be breathtaking and moving, wondrous. But God’s Word is life itself. And just as our name for lightning bug hearkens to lightning, or evokes the greater thing in its name, so do our word point at the real Word, the Word of God. God’s Word is beautiful, and life-giving, and quite dangerous. I don’t know if anyone has ever thought lightning beautiful—perhaps they have from a safe distance, so perhaps that’s as far as you can push the analogy. But nevertheless, the Word of God is something like lightning, something powerful, striking, and altogether out of our control—something that can kill you, but can also bring you life.