Monday, September 24

Going Deep: The Bible as a place of transforming encounter

The story is told about surveyors who came across Lake Mohonk in the Adirondack Mountains. They went to measure its depth, assuming it would be a simple matter since it's a fairly small lake and sits nestled in a shallow valley in the mountains. But when they lowered measuring line, they couldn't find the bottom. They tried again with a longer line, but still couldn't reach the bottom. Even with the longest line they had, they never reached the bottom. What had appeared a shallow lake was in fact a deep crevasse. 

M. Robert Mullholland writes, "Things aren't always what they seem...We often make the same mistake with scripture. Like the surveyors, many of us come to scripture assuming we know quite well what we're dealing with." He adds:
Here is my set of working assumptions as to the nature of scripture: (1) The Word became text (2) to provide a place of transforming encounter with God (3) so that the Word might become flesh in us (4) for the sake of the world. (from Companions in Christ: The Way of Scripture)
Read: John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:3-4
John 1:14 
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

(1) "The Word became text..." We know Jesus, the Word, became flesh. It's the mystery of the incarnation. But the fact that we have a written Word is also an incarnational mystery. The Bible is, in a sense, fully divine (inspired, inerrant) and fully human (written down by human authors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit for human readers who need the same Spirit to make clear its message and meaning).

(2) " provide a place of transforming encounter with God..." The depth of God's Word confronts our preconceived notions. It challenges our "sacred cows." It presents a radically different normal that challenges our cultural understanding of what normal really is. We need to be open to the reality that the biblical way of living may be very different than our ideas of how to live. We need to come to Scripture with an open heart and mind to let the Holy Spirit confront and transform us as He sees fit. When we do, we are changed. We become the people God created us to be. We become Christ-like. We begin to live lives that truly touch others with love, mercy, and grace.

(3) "...that the Word might become flesh in us..." Peter writes that the power of God's Spirit in us enables us to become partakers in the divine nature. When we are transformed by God's Word, we are conformed to Christ's image. We become like Him. We live like Him. Christ is formed in us (Galatians 4:19). The Word becomes "enfleshed" or incarnated in our lives.

(4) "...for the sake of the world." More than good theology or nice church buildings, the world will know and believe in Jesus when it sees Jesus living in us. The Word becomes flesh in us so the transforming love of God can touch a broken and hurting world through us. Mulholland says we cannot truly understand the ultimate meaning of Scripture through knowledge or intellect. The true meaning of Scripture is incarnational. We never know it until it has taken root in us and transformed us. When we live it out, then we truly understand it in its incredible depth.


What in the passage speaks to you? Spend some time considering the image of looking "in a mirror" and then forgetting what you see. How have you experienced "seeing" and then "forgetting in you life? When has a scripture passage shown you something about yourself you hadn't recognized before? How did this recognition change your way of being in the world?
(taken from Companions in Christ: The Way of Scripture)

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