But I also think of how my first experience with the show was actually the name. I hadn't seen the show but, as I served as a youth minister in California, one of my students (let's call him Jake) said, "You should be on American Ninja Warrior--you'd kill it!"
"Oh yeah?" I thought. Never seen it, but I took it as a compliment. I think it was borne out of our rock-climbing experiences and a good relationship. When I first saw the show, I became convinced that he might have actually been making fun of me (just kidding). Did he actually think I could do any of those things? Surely I could do some of the challenges, but I have the upper body strength of a kangaroo mouse, and some extra baggage that I carry that seems to be absent from most of the contestants I see. When it comes down to it, I could do it with the right training and dedication, but right now I'm not up to the challenge.
World events have me thinking about another challenge Christians would do well to take up.
Are we up to the challenge of harvesting the headlines for lasting fruit?
I don't mean to start a debate on positions, or even address my own here. That's not what this post is about. It's about calling all of us to be up to the challenge of reading scripture for ourselves, diligently and consistently. I suspect that we would all use more qualifiers in speaking about scripture if we read the Word enough to know where scripture speaks and where it does not. We would be less likely to put words in God's mouth (or take them out) if we were more familiar with the content and, therefore, the purpose of the Bible.
It's also about the challenge to avoid the fallacy of a false dilemma, where there are only two possible options in an argument. Try listening to people some time and see how often we do this to others. "Are you THIS or THIS?" No matter what your position is on any of the above stories, one thing is certain to me: you don't have to buy in to the "absolute statements" from our culture, or other people, that are emotionally drawn up around these hot-button issues. You don't have to say:
"I'm either on Ken Ham's side OR Gungor's."
"I can either learn something from Driscoll OR he's an ungodly mess."
"Muslims are good people OR bad people."
"You're either born that way OR God hates you (and so must I)."
As Christians, we have a choice to approach the news, our culture, and our relationships through the lens of scripture or any number of other avenues. More often than not, we use some mixture of scripture AND what we find important to us. An interesting question to ask yourself might be, "if I learned that God's view was different than my own, would I be willing to change to align with His?" I believe our tendency is to say, "No," or presuppose that we've misunderstood God's Word and begin the process of "reinterpretation." When I hear ideas like "I feel," "but it doesn't make sense," or "but what about others..." it's a clue that we're trying to 'squish' what God says into what we most desire. I think that's why we get to watch the Israelites in the Bible run the same gamut of those problems, what routes they chose, and how it worked out for them.
So I challenge us all to COMMIT to reading God's Word regularly, consistently, and praying that God would open our eyes to the truth. There are a number of one-year Bibles out there that make this simple, and I've gone through a number of them. What I've recently come across is another Bible reading plan that I've never heard of before and isn't in any of the One Year Bibles I own. I post it here for your consideration, and greatly encourage each of you to read the Word yourself... not just someone's thoughts ON the Word.
If we did, we might find it more difficult to be deceived when we encounter untruth.
What are two ways reading God's Word has impacted your life?