I need to hunger for the Words of God. I not only want to know them but I want to understand them fully. How are we to behold the glory of the Scriptures?
Last week I was reminded of a N.T. Wright video that I had watched a few weeks back. I wanted to relay to something I am learning yet find myself also missing out on which was brought on by this video among other events.
Last week I attended a presentation from the Philosophy department head at KSU, David Odell-Scott. Odell-Scott spoke of the roles of women emphasized in the Bible, and sexuality in the Bible. It seems that this topic has encapsulated most of his life’s work. Odell-Scott is a very liberal NT(specializing in 1 & 2 Cor.) scholar to say the least. Anyway, through discerning what he had boldly proposed, I found little I agreed with him on, when it came to his exegesis. While he spoke of context, he ripped verses from their surroundings. This was the cause that lead me to Wrights concept of what it meant to read Scripture in its fullness…
I went home that Wednesday night after this controversial presentation, and pondered over what had just been said. I thought about his seemingly persuasive ideas but I couldn’t come to terms with hardly anything he said. He went to Romans at one point to discuss homosexuality. So, I went there again afterward with my roommate Andrew. We talked about what thought Odell-Scott was trying to connect in chapters 1 and 2. Was he seeking to justify homosexuality? Did he condemn it as simply another attempt of humanity to dethrone the God of all? I didn’t really know. As I began attempting to connect his points, the Scripture began to connect itself. I quickly got a glimpse of how chapter 1 flowed into 2, and 2 flowed into 3, and how Paul was setting up his readers for the next step in understanding the gospel from beginning to end. This thought did not at first seem anything close to revelatory, but my point is not necessarily directed toward that which is written but instead how we attempt to read the Holy Scriptures.
Let me briefly explain.The world lives in a culture that revolves around self. I believe that this has become implemented into our Bible reading.What do I mean? We as a people of God sometimes read the Bible solely to fulfill a mediocre ambition of temporary fulfillment or temporary hope through a Bible verse that has been taken to mean something it was never meant to. So, what we have then are Christians (including me) who merely read the Bible (or pick out a verse here or there) with a consumeristic mindset, a Bible reading that is centered on us. Please hear me rightly, the Bible is indeed nourishment to our souls, there is no arguing that. But, I also think we need a larger vision in our attempts to understand the most magnificent work ever penned (not to mention through and by the Holy Spirit). It can’t simply be centered on us, and what verses we have “down pat”. It has a larger field of vision than that. It is meant to change us as we begin to understand it, and not only us, but this dark world. These are the words that God wanted us to have. What do we do with that? It is who we are, and it is who God is. I think we are missing the point when we take a verse here or there, when in reality we are missing the Scripture in its fullness. I often fail at my attempts to be clear so forgive me if that has been the case.
Let me admit that I too reduce Scripture and I also conform it to myself instead of being conformed to it, thus Christ. Let me propose that Gods ambition through the Spirit by Scripture is much bigger than we have ever hoped or dreamed. We come to God with the smallest ambitions. Here C.S. Lewis in a famous sermon supports this in saying:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
C.S. Lewis sums up the offer of the gospel in whole, but I also believe that this concept can be applied to our reading of Scripture. We are a people satisfied with only a fraction of that which is placed before us. In the Bible, we have a whole world out there that is waiting for our pursuit. It speaks of almighty God, the world, and us. I must agree with Lewis when he says we are far too easily satisfied. One of my favorite missionaries, Jim Elliot says this in one of his journals concerning Scripture:
The Word of God is not bound! It is free to say what it will to the individual, and no one can outline it into dispensations which cannot be broken. Don’t get it down “cold” but let it live , fresh, warm, and vibrant, so that the world is not binding ponderous books about it, but rather it is shackling you for having allowed it to have free course in your life. That’s the apostolic pattern!
Hopefully with the words of these godly men, you begin to understand what I myself am wrestling with. Now finally to the video by N.T. Wright. Here is the URL: http://vimeo.com/31700217