Friday, August 1, 2008

The Big Idea

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105).

My teen years were when I really started to read the Bible for myself and to start wrestling with what to do with it. In our youth group, proof texting (that is, pulling something out of context to make it seem like it means something in particular, even if it was not written with that meaning) was common. Sometimes it was done ignorantly; sometimes it was done out of selfishness. For some, it was almost like a hobby.

I finished up the first half of a class last week: "Tracing the Story of God in the Bible." Our goal is to look at the whole Bible with a big-picture perspective, developing a strong overview understanding. From this, we are able to see more clearly who God is. Many people are familiar with quite a few stories in the Bible (e.g., Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, God's promises to Abraham, etc.), but don't really see how they fit together. Similarly, how does the story of Jesus lead to the formation of the Church, and how does that tie to the various letters in the Bible? It has been a delight many times during the class to see, sometimes for the first time, incredible relationships between writings separated by hundreds of pages, even by thousands of years. It has been a joy to spend this time getting to know God better, to see Him more clearly through a broader, deeper understanding of scripture.

By the way, if you've ever read Matthew 5:38-42 and wondered about Jesus' teaching about getting slapped and getting sued and getting forced to walk a mile, I'd recommend checking out this talk by John Ortberg. Jesus' teaching here was an incredible statement within the culture and structure in which he was teaching. "Now you, as an agent of the Kingdom, can look for a strong, creative way to refuse to participate in mutual ongoing hostility." Fascinating!

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