Wow – busy weekend…but a great one in all. Had the privilege of speaking at church 3 times on Sunday – once in Torquay and twice at our home church.
We’ve been thinking about bible reading recently, how many Christians just aren’t people who enjoy reading, or just don’t get the whole individual approach to faith that church has so often made discipleship out to be. When we’ve talked about ‘a personal relationship’ with Jesus (although that still is at the centre of what we believe) we’ve often unwittingly made ourselves the most important person in Jesus’ world! We’ve forgotten that for Israel and for the early church faith was a community issue – it drew people together, giving them a sense of identity, a sense that they were ‘God’s chosen people’. Individuals within that must have their own experience of God, of course, but we live out our faith in community, we laugh together, we cry together, we celebrate together, we mourn together.
We were trying to encourage people who aren’t into reading to get together with friends to talk through bible stuff – not from the old skool bible study approach, but getting together, maybe for an hour after work in the local pub, and talking about verses in the bible. Really getting into it, arguing (with love and grace!) points of view. As someone said to me after I spoke last night, that’s exactly what Judaism was all about – people wrestling with scripture, arguing about meaning and interpretation, shaping each other (iron sharpening iron?!). Some of us will simply learn better because we’re ‘doing’ kind of people – experience is so important – it’s not enough just to read.
Anyway – just thought I’d note some of my closing thoughts – may be of some help to someone, somewhere:-
When we encounter God through scripture:
– We are connecting with God’s story of interaction with humanity – God’s story is our story – a story best experienced in community
– We understand who we are in God’s story by understanding how others like us have played their parts – in scripture and by looking around us at those we share the journey
– We’re invited to be part of this eternal story, and we need to know where we’re coming from and where we’re heading – eternal connection – a sense of shared history with the eternal people of God
– We are God’s people – the community of the redeemed who are invited by him to be part of his plan for the redemption of creation
– Scripture is dangerous, it’s radical, it’s controversial – something to stimulate, to encourage, to correct – something to wrestle with as a group of God followers and dreamers seeking to
understand who we are called to be
– We journey together, not alone
– We cannot allow the bread of life to become an antiquated text book – it’s incendiary, revolutionary, radical, inflammatory – it can’t be simply a chore, it must be a radical step of discipleship
– We get a sense of what our purpose is, our mission, an outward focus that saves us from becoming simply a holy huddle
So maybe we need to get better at opening our bibles with our friends, not locking ourselves away in our rooms…