When Jesus and the disciples encounter a blind man, they ask, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Behind that question is a long theological argument over whether the sins of the parents are visited on the children or whether each person suffers for their own sins. Jesus offers yet another way.
When Jesus encounters the woman at the well in Samaria, the narrator notes, “Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.” That is true. It is also true that “Jews share everything in common with Samaritans.” Therein lies the problem with making the differences between “us” and “them” into solid, permanent walls.
The biblical view of truth is not as a dead thing, such as a brass ring that we can obtain or a set of propositions that we can figure out. Biblical truth is an incarnate, living reality, known relationally such as when Jesus says, “I am the truth.” As such, truth will always be in tension with the kind of ‘tradition’ that tries to ossify the truth of a living moment into a lasting form that can be manipulated by those in power.
The best of the Christian tradition has said that the “Word of God” is not the Bible. The Scriptures are “the constitutive and critical norm of Christian life and faith,” but the “Word of God” is that creative, life-giving power of being that became flesh and lived among us in Jesus Christ. In the story of Jesus’ temptations in Matthew’s gospel, we see the difference between the Scriptures and Truth itself, when the devil quotes Scripture as a way of testing Jesus. Even the devil can quote the Bible. The truth, the “Word of God,” is that moment when the Scriptures come alive in worship and service to God’s glory.
Sometime a “holy moment” comes our way, like the experience of Peter, James, and John on the mountain of transfiguration. Our first instinct is to try to manage that moment, by capturing and controlling it. In doing so, we often ruin it. As we approach the season of Lent, we pray for hearts that are open and receptive, resisting our urge to control and capture the holy moments that God brings our way.
Guest Preacher, Dr. Gail Stearns
Sometimes we can quote Scripture and violate it all at the same time. The point of Scripture is less about the specific words that Jesus or others use in their moment, but all about the real presence of God in that moment. The question is, in our words and actions, are we “scripturing the presence of God”?
“Are Christians called to be nice?” That question arises among many people of faith when facing the choice between keeping peaceful unity or to raising our voice of conviction. When Jesus says, “I have not come to abolish the law or the prophets,” he offers us a way out of the either/or of that choice.
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the “Beatitudes,” a radical upside-down vision of what constitutes the honorable life that says “everything our people taught us was wrong.”
What makes your heart sing? What makes your heart scream? For hearts that have been cultivated by the word of God and the discipline of living in community, those places where our hearts sing or scream are places where God is calling us to come and follow.