So this week I finally got to re-read a book
that’s been sitting on the shelf for quite some time.
Long hours in a van are good for that sort of thing you know.
I heard once that you can tell who is a true lover of
books not by how many books one has read,
but at how many books one has read twice.
Now, if that really is true, than I don’t think I’d qualify, sadly,
but I will say that I started reading books much more
slowly in recent years.
Wanting to actually remember and make sense
of what I just read, instead of just reading through
to get another “read” on my list.
A speaker friend of mine once said this of the Bible,
“do you read it to finish or do you read it to change?”
So I’m reading this bit in a book by Donald Miller about
the gospel and Jesus and how the whole thing is about
a relationship with God and not just the memorization of facts.
He relays a story about presenting the gospel in a Bible class
he was teaching and how it was very telling about the state
of the church and Christians in general.
I guess the story goes that he started a class by telling his students
that he was going to present the gospel to them but was going
to leave something out. Something essential.
So after twenty minutes of carefully constructed verses and doctrine
he steps from the chalk board and says, “Ok, what’s missing?”
Minutes of awkward silence ensue.
Nobody knew. Nobody knew what he had left out.
A class of Bible scholars who had just shared their faith
door to door the week before, couldn’t tell him what was
missing. Now they were going to school to understand
the Word better so it wouldn’t have been too big a deal
I suppose. Unless of course, the thing missing was Jesus.
Yeah that’s right.
He never mentioned the name of Jesus.
And no one even noticed.
So fast forward a couple days to a lunch I had with a good
friend named Oscar. The band was driving through Atlanta,
on Sunday and what good is a trip through the ATL if you’re not gonna
stop at Chipotle right? Yeah, my thoughts exactly.
So we’re eating lunch and my friend starts to lament over
his own faith and how lacking he has found the things
he has grown up believing. The conversation has left me thinking.
Not that he’s recanting his faith or anything,
it’s just that he’s been struggling with the idea
that Christianity is just about memorizing a bunch
of facts and being able to spit them back on cue.
He even questioned, “is it possible that we
elevate the Scriptures to an unhealthy level of importance?”
We both agreed that the question itself sounds heretical,
but it sure does have merit.
I mean, why else would Christ himself say,
“You search the Scriptures because in them
you think you have eternal life, but you would not come
to me that I might give you life?” (John 5)
Is it possible to get so worked up over our own
theological correctness that we miss the whole point.
Namely, knowing Jesus?
Didn’t he say that He was the truth?
Does this mean that truth is a person?
Like I said, it’s got me thinking.
After all, eternal life is not just understanding certain points on a tract,
so you can have a “get out of hell free” card stuffed in your back pocket.
Isn’t eternal life, knowing God? (John 17:3)
You don’t fall in love with someone by reading their stats on eharmony.
You fall in love by meeting them.
Spending time with them.
This puts a whole different spin on how one “becomes a Christian.”
Maybe it isn’t as formulaic as we would like it to be.
Maybe it’s not a simple step by step process that one adheres to
to join a club.
Maybe it’s about a person.
Maybe it’s about getting to know that person.
Maybe it’s an invitation.
I’ll leave you with these questions that I’ve been asking,
but if you have some time to ponder further,
Check out this quote from Miller’s book,
“Searching for God Knows What.”
I think it might prove more fruitful if our tracts read like this:
“You are the bride to the Bridegroom,
and the Bridegroom is Jesus Christ.
You must eat of his flesh
and drink of his blood to know Him,
and your union with Him will make you one,
and your oneness with Him
will allow you to be identified with HIm,
His purity allowing God to interact
with you, and because of this
you will be with Him in eternity,
sitting at his side and enjoying his companionship,
which will be more fulfilling than
an earthly husband or an earthly bride.
All you must do to engage God
is be willing to leave everything behind,
be willing to walk away from your identity,
and embrace joyfully the trials and tribulations,
the torture and perhaps martyrdom
that will come upon you for being a child of God
in a broken world working out its own redemption in empty pursuits.”
So this week I finally got to re-read a book