Approaching Scripture

When we travel, my wife prefers a list view of the trip. Turn right here, turn left at the stop light, stay on Route X for 40 miles, and so forth. Now, I like the GPS woman to give me next turn advice when I’m driving, but I prefer having a map. I want a picture of the route. It helps me greatly to understand where I’m going and where I am at the moment.

Some people approach their Scriptures or other ancient spiritual writings as if they were a user’s manual for living. They seek to compile a list, like my wife’s trip. Just give me a set of rules that I can follow to give me assurance that I am pleasing God. Oh, and it also serves as a measure of me against everyone else. I’m getting a B while the class average is C. Great. I’m doing OK.

Another approach considers the writings as the story of the encounter of humans with God. We don’t care about historical or scientific fact. These writings are neither history the way we understand it today or science. Check out Abraham who encountered God, and re-encountered God after yet another failure. Great story of following and failing and following. Sounds like us.

Look at the New Testament people we follow. Peter–full of failure, yet persisted to become a great leader. John–stumbled at times, but became the theological guru. Saul/Paul–was a murderer of Christ-followers, encountered God, became a great leader and theologian. I love the story of the Hebrew Daniel who administered great empires yet kept his focus firmly on God.

Lists are hard to follow, in the end. And I have no wish to continually compare myself to others–I always hated grades. But when I fail, I get solace from realizing the stories of failure and triumph providing a picture of people of God on the journey. And it’s all a journey until we die.

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