Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Bible’s Making Sense to Me Again

Over the past few months, I’ve struggled quite a bit to read my Bible. I’ve been reading it very critically and very skeptically.

What prompted a mini-revival in my Bible reading is a recent opportunity I had to prepare and deliver a devotional to about 45 men at a homeless shelter in St. Louis last Sunday after serving them dinner. I discussed Romans 13:8-14. I had two points: (1) how we are to love, and (2) how we are transformed by love.

The passage spoke to me and seeing the men also moved me. Most of the men I spoke with were reasonable but had obviously fallen on challenging times. There is a tendency at times for conservative people to think that they just have to lift themselves and take advantage of opportunities. In reality, a lot of people in that situation have a form of mental illness and cannot viably do that. We are to be compassionate and empathetic and not needlessly exhort people to accomplish what they cannot. Nobody prefers a homeless shelter to a normal family life.

When I am going through challenging times, my tendency is to be very flippant about my faith. This is not good it’s just me being realistic about myself. Everyone is different but for me I find that when I am preparing for teaching I feel a responsibility to read it for what it is – God’s Word. When I am having a down period, reading the Bible in isolation without the benefit or input of a community, can lead me to be critical.

This is a reminder to me that the Word of God is not just words on a page. The Word is to be lived out in the context of community. It’s not just an intellectual exercise of trying to make it sensible from a philosophical or apologetic standpoint, although there’s a place for that. I am starting to feel renewed again by God’s Word as I have opportunities to serve. I pray that I will continue to be transformed.

1 comment:

Greg Kern said...

Hi Dennis!

Great post. It's strange how we go through regular periods of dryness, or aloof-ness, or even "I-don't-really-care-right-now"-ness (if we're being honest) about this Faith that we hold. We hear about Christians in other countries who cling to their Faith with seemingly unwavering fervency, and I heard someone say once it's because they NEED God -- every day -- much more than we do.

So I hear ya, and I'm right there with you. It's comforting to know that the great saints of the Faith went through such times, too -- David is a great example... Just read the Psalms -- and it's good to know too that God understands our frame and knows we are easily distracted, bored, even apathetic sometimes... Service to others, even on a "small" level (or on a significant level, like your serving the homeless men) is a great way to re-invigorate that sense of, "oh yeah... THIS is what it's supposed to be like..."

God bless ya brother as you reconnect with that sense. Talking things out like this is a great way to keep The Message -- and the God whose message it is -- at the front of our minds...