Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Generations Respond Profoundly

Below are five responses, representing people from 5 different decades, to my email/blog-before-last on February 9th entitled "The Bible and the Word of God" about the role and authority that the Bible has in our lives (you can check it out at

"Do I see [the Bible] as a list of rules to follow or as a book of stories and letters (what it really is)? And how does that have authority over the way I live? And the answer I've come to as of now is that it points me to Jesus and his life. It is one of the ways I know Christ and experience him. It really affects the way you see the Bible and how you interpret it. I think when we begin to see the Bible as  "THE Word of God" we begin to worship it. But I follow a man, not a book. The book just points me to that man." - My friend DW, in his 20s

"I've always been terrified when questions have arisen that relate to my foundation of belief.  And the VERY few people with whom I've tried to talk about it have done the equivalent of putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly.  They really just don't want to hear something that might make them question the same things.  And, truthfully, I don't want to cause someone to question these things.  I don't want to be held accountable for screwing anyone up." - My friend JB, in her 30s

"The challenge is to look at the text and see what we need to see.  There are rules there that must be followed.  There are examples there that must be followed.  There is Jesus there that must be followed.  The Pharisees looked at the text for the rules...they came up short.  In grade school I was shown the examples by my Bible class teachers and they were great stories...that came up short.  Now I am challenged by this kid with spikey hair and no suit to look at the same text and find Jesus.  This is a frightening, eye-opening experience.  I'm seeing a different man than I have ever seen before.  Not because He is different but because I am seeking in a different way.  The text hasn't changed, but the Book sounds different to me. It was much easier to look at the text and see the rules to check off and follow those good examples without having to be...a disciple.  It was easier to be a disciple when I thought a disciple was just a believer.  But a disciple is a person who has a burning desire and passion to be like his teacher." - My friend DP, in his 40s
"Everyone that I have been asking and interviewing about the subject has good intentions however; I am getting all types of opinions from different people. Plus every denomination seems to have their set of ideas. For some reason, I have this desire to find out more...and the truth especially." - My friend KG, in her 50s

"My honest feeling is that there are some folks that will glean from this just what they want to hear.  I am fearful that some will come to the conclusion that the scriptures aren't the true word of God." - my friend LL, in his 60s

My oldest brother, LL, here has a legitimate fear...that people will think that the Bible isn't actually from God. Those people would really miss out on incredible blessing and guidance in life if they didn't understand that God was behind it. But they would have to pretend I said that, and I sure can't control that.

My youngest brother, DW here has an equally legitimate fear...that people will worship the Book rather than (or in addition to) Christ alone. And many of us have grown up in churches that have confused us about whether there is a difference. I don't blame them for my confusion, any more than those LL are afraid will be confused by me can blame me.

My oldest sister here (no offense KG) is frustrated by a dozen different views on spiritual issues, all appearing valid to whoever holds them, and all making sense if you subscribe first to HOW THEY APPROACH Scripture. This is what I am exploring in these thoughts...what is the Scriptural way to approach Scripture? Is there a Biblical method of getting from the Bible what we are supposed to?

Notice that my youngest sister, JB, here has been taught (not overtly, I bet) to be "terrified" when questions arise about her foundational beliefs. And evidently she's "blessed" with a community of faith who feels the same way and won't engage in dialogue with her about it. Notice she is even afraid she would be accountable for "screwing up" anyone who joined her in her questions. What religious beliefs has caused this terror?

Let me bring all my friends thoughts together with mine...My brother DP, in the middle above, is humbly opening up to the idea that there is something "truer" than what he already knows. We go to the Scripture to find Jesus, and it challenges us at the foundation of our beliefs. It IS terribly risky - open and vulnerable to other's misinterpretation and judgments - but completely worth it, and even good for those who misinterpret to be "shaken up" right along with you (and don't worry, if they really can't handle it, they will do the equivalent of putting their fingers in the ears and humming). The "frightening, eye opening experience" that the pursuit of Truth brings just reminds us that we are fully alive, and must be humble as we live. And the fear of accountability that our own doubts, questions, and discoveries might "screw someone else up" is no more dangerous than the accountability for NOT doing so, since they may be in desperate need of it, confounded in total lies, but just comfortable with (and therefore confident in) it. In the end, we must have relentless faith in the idea that our Teacher Jesus told us, that "the Truth will set you free". And praise God for the "desire to find out more...[of] the truth especially". That desire is a gift of God...Him moving in us to set us free.

I rarely know where I am going when I sit down to type, and I've composed this piece over the course of many days, and I'm not sure I've wrapped a bow around it for you. But let me tell you two truths that I have discovered that have given me a taste of freedom that I hope and wish for all of my friends above, and for all of you...

1) I know that it is not in my "getting it right" that God saves me. So I can hear and consider anything from anyone, giving them full credibility as a qualified fellow human being, challenging every single one of my most dear and precious beliefs, knowing that in the chaos of confusion inside of me (and that I create in my community, no matter how they respond), He is re-creating in me what He intended in the first place. And if Jesus has set me free from our knowing the right things, then I am free indeed.

2) I believe I could not do one more thing for God ever, for the rest of my life, and He would still love me exactly the same. Because of this great love, I will do anything for Him, for the rest of my life, out of my great love for Him.

"I'm not in the Kingdom of Heaven because of what I believe or what I do, I am in the Kingdom of God because it brings God pleasure to to have me there." - Yours Truly

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