Friday, August 19, 2011

Not Merely "What Do I Do" but "How Does This Apply to Me"

Teaching and instructing people in the Law is not merely a matter of teaching them what to do and what not to do. I find that this is the approach that can be often taken (and often desired) by folks. We want lists of regulations. We want 7 steps to a better _____. We want a cannon law that tells us what we can do when (as a note - not all Roman Catholic priests, by cannon law, are allow to pronounce absolution for the sin of abortion - Dr. Gene Veith notes this in a blog post today).

This desire for lists, for rules that I can look at is fundamentally flawed for two reasons. First, no list is ever going to cover every contingency. You simply can't do it. You can't plan out a flow chart for everything. (One problem would be... it doesn't work, as Jesus points out when He speaks to the Pharisees and their laws and traditions). It's an impossible task, a false and misleading dream that we can create ever more complex and complex approaches that somehow "simplify" our lives.

But more than that is the second problem. It objectives and then moves away from the Scriptures. The Scriptures become a base, a source for establishing a code... and then the code is examined to determine what should be done. It's clean, it's sterile, it's distant. Instead of meditation upon the Word, there is simple input->output course of action.

I do not want to simply tell you what to do. I want to teach you how to learn to read the Scriptures and rightly ponder, "How does this apply to me?"

Not "What does this mean to me" or "How does this make me feel" - but "How does this apply to me."

As Christians we are to meditate upon the Word - it is to be lain over our lives like a blanket, draping over all things, informing us, directing us, condemning us, absolving us, recreating us -- killing and giving life.

How does a passage do so to you right now? Ponder this.

For example, let's pick a random verse. Bible Gateway has as its verse of the day 1 John 5:12 - “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

This is not merely some human construct designed to make you jump one way and not another - but it is the Divine Truth. How does this apply to your life? Does it cut you to the quick as you ponder how you have approached things completely neglecting or compartmentalizing Christianity apart from the rest of your life? Does it explain how and why you were comforted and able to endure in the trials of yesterday? Does it give comfort to you as you grieve the death of your mother and prepare for her funeral today, as you know that in her Baptism she had the Son and thus now has life? Does it remind you that sin is nothing else than turning your back upon God and thus chasing after little bits of death? Does it explain to you the desires for violence and power you see as all vain attempts to try to grasp and control a person's own life in the midst of a world of death?

The Scriptures are True - and they apply to your life - they apply, they speak, they describe more things in your life than I could ever possibly anticipate. Why? Because my perspective is limited... I've only seen what I've seen.

I can guess at how this verse might comfort the one whose mother has died... and I can point. But I'm not there yet. I can only guess at how this might remind the believer what they have, even over and against family who does not believe and the difficulties it gives them... but that's not my experience. I won't see that as clearly.

Rather than just a book giving instruction on how we are to act, the Scriptures open our eyes - they make us to see things in light of the Word and God's law and God's grace and mercy -- it teaches us reality.

That is what the Christian life is about... not mere actions and how to approach them, but rather this. The Highest Reality of the Universe is this - that Christ Jesus, True God and True Man, has come into this world and with His death and resurrection has redeemed His fallen creation, which includes you. The entirety of Scriptures point to this truth, clarify it, shows "what does this mean".

This is what we are to grow in. We are not player pianos or music boxes that are taught to bang out notes just to some list - we are those who are trained in music so that we might delight in God's gifts and learn to sing with the heavenly song. This is what our life is - this is what we grow into... do not settle for something less.

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