Friday, February 01, 2013

Friday Thoughts

I need to let my definition of Jesus be redefined.
Have I lost touch with who he is in my life?
The Latin definition of religion is "obligation". That's what happens when we approach the truth from a distance. 

These are just a few quotes from Dr. Simon, who spoke at church last Sunday. I've been thinking about it ever since, and am genuinely challenged to become reacquainted with Jesus. Lately, the real Jesus seems out of my reach, but I know he's not. I sense that he's allowing this growing emptiness in me, so that He has something to fill. I have much hope in that. I want to know the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of my experience, the Jesus of my theology, the Jesus of my swirling and changing thoughts, the Jesus of my youth. The only answer I keep coming back to is that in order to encounter the Jesus of the Bible, I have to go to the Bible to find him.

My challenge is that I grew up reading the Bible, memorizing scripture, learning Bible stories in Sunday school via felt boards and paper cut-outs of Noah and David, and I am incredibly familiar it all. I want to open it and read it like it's brand new. I want to believe it like my life depends on it. Because it does.

At the same time, I've been reading a biography by Eric Metaxas about the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer. (DB was a German pastor/theologian who stood up for the Jews while the Nazi party and Hitler were in power. He had a deep Biblical conviction about this. He was apart of a group of people who planned to assassinate Hitler. He was found out and hung for it.) In it, he writes a letter to his brother-in-law about the Bible. These words have taken my hand and are leading me somewhere good.

"First of all I will confess quite simply - I believe the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive the answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one's own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. Of course it is also possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc.; there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, "pondering them in our heart," so it will be with the words of the Bible. Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not want to leave us along with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible."

Thank you, Dietrich. That helps me very much. I especially am moved by the part that says I cannot simply think about God in my own strength. Because I do - I think of him without inquiring of him to reveal himself to me. He wants to reveal who he is through the Bible. As I read, I often ask for wisdom, answers, peace, revelation, inspiration, motivation!!!...but I rarely ask for HIM. This will change.
Eric Metaxas gave a wonderfully truthful (and humorous) speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast. I think he might be one of my favorite people right now. (The video is below, if you're interested. It's 30 minutes and worth every bit.) He talks about William Wilberforce and Dietrick Bonhoeffer, and how that once they encountered the Jesus of the Bible, they were moved to action and became great advocates for the oppressed, and changed nations.

So there you have it...just some Friday thoughts.
One other thing - I also get to hear Eric Metaxas speak at a prayer breakfast here in Seattle, in April. I'm SO EXCITED. :) :)
Adventure isn't missing,

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