Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sometimes the point is that there is no point

I am preparing a Bible study based on I Samuel 21 and 22. And as a person reads the story, there is definitely a hero (David) and definitely a villian (Saul), but nobody really acts in a way that is morally pure or that anyone could commend as a role model.

David lies.
Ahimilech disobeys the law.
Doeg gossips and commits mass murder.
Saul orders the slaughter of holy men.
Saul's soldiers refuse to obey the orders of their king.
David pretends to be mentally ill.
David draws to himself a guirilla army of misfits and appears a lot more like Osama Bin Laden than George Washington.

So, how is one supposed to learn from a passage like this? My Reformed/Calvinist upbringing tells me that the Scripture is more about God and his work than about hero worship or finding moral role models. So what might God be saying? I do not seem to see an explicit message in that regard either.

Here is what I think. Sometimes God's Word is more descriptive than prescriptive. Sometimes God's word simply shares stories like David and Doeg with us to let us know that life does not always have easy answers. I think what we are to learn in a story like this is that live is confusing and we are to do are best to be loving and faithful in the midst of situations where the answers are not clear. And as we do so, maybe our job is to simply (or maybe not so simply) trust in God's grace when we don't quite get things right and keep trying to be faithful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Creative Thoughts on Genesis

I tried to start my new devotional last night, but I got to caught up in the passage I was reading to do the work that I was supposed to do.

After teaching on Genesis for 7 months in the last year and a half, as well as having questions about it in another Bible study I am reading, I am thinking more and more about how the original authors intended us to understand the book.

A couple of months ago, I encountered a person who struggled to believe in Christ based purely on the story in Genesis. This person is a literal thinker, and not highly intellectual. However, they had a hard time understanding how God could "walk with Adam" in the cool of the evening and be God at the same time.

As I read Genesis generally, I try to stay focused on the story. The story of sin and redemption, and of struggle and hope. However, the more I read the beginning part of Genesis, the more I keep noticing mythological language. Which tells me maybe some things are written with the understanding that we are not to take things quite as literally. Thus, the question of orgins may have a new frontier. The debate may not be so much about an argument about what to teach in schools, but about what the text really says in and of itself. I think an argument can be made that the text itself leads us to believe in an interpretative framework that looks a little different than historical development. Maybe that is why Genesis is in the Torah instead of the Historical Books.

Anyway...something I am thinking about......

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

An odd lesson from grieving

It's strange. I am in love. Jen is just about perfect for me. I am going to be married in less than two months. I am excited about being married. I have no regrets. And yet, at times while the date of our wedding approaches, and I can't help but feel some sense of grief at the loss of singleness.

This struggle came as a surprise for me. I thought that I would be so blissful about being married (which I am), that I would not have a worry in the world about married life as my wedding day approached. Furthermore, the things that popular culture says I will grieve as a married person I am not that worried about. Since I have not been sexually active for most of my adult life, I am not grieving the loss of options or variety of partners. I am not that worried about money when I get married. I think, at least to start with, we will both be healthier financially. My social life actually has a boost from being in a couple, as I serve as an Associate Pastor in a family-centered church.

What I struggle with are other things. I like to spend time running away and hiding from everything, and yet the longer I am in a relationship the less able I am to do that. I like long periods of time where I don't have any human interaction. I like to have all my money for myself. I don't like being accountable for how I spend my free time. I like burying myself in my work.

In the process of trying to understand this I had an "everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten" moment. I really have a hard time sharing with others. When you are single, much of your domestic life is centered around self-care. Now another person and their thoughts, feelings, and emotional needs come into the picture. In the process, you find yourself, in many ways, responsible for two instead of one. And, your spouse does too. When you are single, you think of the convieniences and pleasures of being in a relationship. Even though you know a relationship is work, you are unprepared for some of the work that needs to be done in your soul. As I am preparing to be married, I am realizing that it is more soulwork than I anticipated.

Married life is an adjustment I am eager to make, but many of the adjustments still take me by surprise.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Quote of the Day

Luther noticed that:

"whenever the gospel is taught and people seek to like according to it, there are two terrible plagues that always arise: false preachers who corrupt the teaching, and the Sir Greed, who obstructs right living....Spiritually...the great problem is the false teaching that corrupts faith; physically is is the greed that corrupts its fruit."

(F. Dale Bruner, Christbook, page 320)