Bible Basics 1
So much of what I do on a weekly basis revolves around the Bible. I’d like to believe that it also shapes who I am as a person. So I was very excited when Pastor Chansin suggested a sermon series on the Bible. Over the next five weeks we will try to answer some basic questions about the Bible- Who? What? When/Where? How? and Why? I plan in these articles to augment those sermons with some material that I will call “Bible basics.“ My first point comes out of many experiences which I have had over the years that are similar to the one that I will now relate. Once after a worship service where I had been the guest speaker, a woman came up to me and proceeded to tell me how the Methodist Church was wrong in very many areas and then she proceeded to trash every other church in town until she had covered all of the denominations! Her husband smiled and nodded approvingly at all of her unfair and vicious critiques of the churches and told me, “my wife is really into the Word.” At this point I wondered if the Word had ever gotten into her. She seemed to have forgotten about words such as “judge not lest you be judged” or “do not bear false witness” or even “love your enemies”! Had all of her Bible study really helped to mature her as a Christian?
So my first Bible basic is simply that the purpose of Bible study is not information but transformation. As one professor put it years ago, “it is not how much Bible you know but how much Bible you do” that counts. Centuries ago Christians talked about it this way, they called this basic “performing the Word.”
I grieve when I think of all of the damage that has been done to people in the name of the Bible. Slaves, women, the poor, members of the LGBTQIA community, non believers as well as adherents of other faiths and so many others have all had the Bible used against them in order to justify their oppression. It is my hope that this sermon series and accompanying newsletter articles will help us to use the Bible in ways that both shape us to be more loving and mature as well as help us to find a way to let the Bible bless others. Wisdom and emotional intelligence when combined with skills in biblical interpretation’s should help us become both better performers and better stewards of God’s Word.
To this day I remain haunted by the late Fred Craddock’s comment on German Christians who supported the Nazi regime in their persecution of Jews and their military aggression during the Second World War: “they knew the Bible, but they did not know the God of the Bible.” The God of the Bible desires that we grow not only in our love for God and for God’s Word but in our love for people as well.