Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lay Aside Your Preconceptions

Being so far removed from when the text of the Bible was written is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because we have such a wealth of material handed done to us by men and women who have pondered and study the text and have done their best to pass on what they believed. We can gain valuable knowledge from what these examples of faith wrote down long ago.

It is a curse because of all the baggage we bring to the Bible. While I do believe that what the theologians of years past have passed on to us important ideas I also believe that often these ideas hinder our understanding of what the Bible says. Some times it seems to me that we act that because so-and-so taught this there is nothing more to be said on the the subject. Biblical Christianity, if there is truly such a thing, is based on people’s interpretation of the Bible than what the Bible actually says. Our standard for truth cannot be what some guy says truth is, no matter how brilliant he may seem to be, but the truth God has revealed to us through through His word.

I like what Scot McKnight wrote in his commentary on Galatians:

“Our stance is submission to whatever the text says, regardless of what that means for our thinking and lifestyle. We are using a slippery escape when we distort the interpretation so that it fits our predispositions; we are not finding a slippery escape when we accept the text as it stands, regardless of its implications for life. Every honest interpreter can give countless examples of finding himself or herself to be simply wrong and in need of God’s grace as a result of reading the Bible with the purpose of hearing God’s word” (The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; pg. 56).

We need to approach the Bible with the objective of hearing God’s word rather than trying to prove that position is THE Christian position. Part of humility is being able to set aside what we think is so important and open our hearts and our minds to what God has to say to us. I wonder how many times I have missed out on hearing God’s Word because I when I approached the Bible I thought I had it all figured out.

Here is another challenge I want to give you as we head into this new year: set aside your preconceived notions and go to the Bible seeking a word from God. If you will do this you might realize that you don’t have things quite as well figured out as you thought you did. But I am willing to bet that you think that is a fair trade as you get to know God better.

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