This post begins a new chapter in my faith walk, where I will endeavor to read through the Bible and "blog" my thoughts and revelations from the Word. I'm hoping this forum is a place for others to not only read along with me but to chime in with what the Spirit has revealed to them. That's the short answer. If you're interested in joining me, I'm thrilled to have you!
Each blog post will be titled with the text I'm using and will continue through to the book's end. I'm not going from start to finish, Genesis to Revelation, either. But I will be going through complete books. As you might expect, much of what you read here are my personal thoughts on a passage (i.e. commentary) and are therefore not a substitute for reading the Word yourself. I will be using the NASB translation unless otherwise noted.
If you're not interested in the longer story of why I'm doing this, you can stop here and join me for the first blog post. But if you want to read why I'm doing this, read on!
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In much the same way in our culture, it can be all-too-tempting for leaders to seek recognition or honor, or for Christians to fall into some kind of hero worship of a pastor, priest, prominent Christian figurehead, and get all the "Bible" they think they need from them. Some might even say you don't have the right to question a pastor, much less in an accountability fashion, because they've been instituted above you as a leader for your protection. Now, some may think that sounds godly and full of wisdom, but the problem is it's not biblical. There's no pastor for pastors spoken of in the Bible, so who has the role of holding them accountable to the Word? If the answer is no one, then they are answerable to God alone and our role, as members of their flock, is to follow their leadership. The problem is if they stop listening to the counsel of God, walk headlong into sin, and (God forbid) take some sheep with them.
Jesus spoke harshly to the Jewish leaders of His time, of their desire for notice, for honor, for special treatment. If the Jesus we see is only from one person (and that person is not Jesus) there are too many avenues for error to erode away right thinking. There is no room for jealousy in the teaching of God's word. When we are so certain of our right thinking regarding the Word of God that we're not open to listening to others, harsh treatment of those who differ from us is close at hand. My inclination is to think that a subtle shift, in those instances, has pulled us away from a search for truth -- and in some cases helping another in their search for the same truth -- and drawn us to a debate on who's right and who's wrong. When this happens we can all but ignore the journey of learning and discovery we ourselves have been on and demand that another "get" where we are. If they don't, well... in all likelihood they don't truly believe in God, the Bible, or Jesus. Ipso facto, they are not saved.
But according to Acts 17, Paul didn't offer to lead everyone in a prayer of decision on his right hand and sell sunscreen to fight the flames of hell on his left hand. There, as elsewhere, he was faithful to preach, faithful to teach, and the inevitable conclusion of choice resulted in some who believed and others who didn't. The choice to study was, then, up to the individual. So it is today. We can study for ourselves, or flit from one opinion to another as something someone says strikes our fancy. I see this as problematic for two reasons:
- There is a greater likelihood that we are accepting another's interpretations that have been seamlessly tacked on to scripture, to the point where they don't even see the difference between the two. Of course they will defend it as being scriptural, and of course they will be able to show you how they got there from scripture, but these things do not automatically make them right.
- We can develop the habit of reading scripture as through a personal lens, whether our own or someone else's. It's, of course, impossible to read the Bible completely objectively, but we should not seek out only those passages that support our viewpoints either. This is, quite honestly, a manipulation of the Word of God to suit individual purposes.
I don't want to be that kind of person, that looks for only the ideas that support my current stance or waits for someone else to tell me what I should believe. Doesn't it seem strange to read theology books to get to the heart of what we should believe when it is the Bible that the authors of these books went to to find the material for these books? At least, we assume this in giving these authors the benefit of the doubt. Surely they would not mislead us. Surely they would not willfully teach error in their writings. And yet many people write about the same issue and reach very different results.
There may not be deceit in mind, but there is difference in opinion. I surmise there are far fewer differences that affect our ultimate salvation than those differences that result from continued study of the Word and the personal leading of the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is right and wrong interpretation (our study should not be done in a vacuum) but there is also right and wrong counsel. But I don't believe it's even that white and black. There is even unprofitable interpretation and counsel. They may not be right or wrong, but they are void of the full understanding God has of a person's history and path and damages that need healing.
Sometimes, through no malicious design of our own, we can inadvertently cause damage instead of help. We forget the process of growth in the faith that we went through to get to where we are now, and we try to fast-track others, "catch them up to speed." Again, best of intentions, but ultimately short-sighted. Not only do I not want to do this to others, I don't want it done to me.
I'm not sprinting my faith; this is a marathon.
I'm not expecting failure or something better; I'm in this for life.
I'm not collecting facts and figures; I'm struggling with the God who is my life.
I'm not seeking ways to win debates with others; this search will empower me to know more of God.
That's my goal, and that's why I'm doing this. I may not get to it every day (though I hope to), but when I do I hope you'll join me.
Here's to a new beginning in God's Word!