The Oasis - October 25, 2023

Author: Rev. Dan Hollis
October 25, 2023

During last month’s “Get to Know Your Bible” class, a conversation we had spurred some thoughts that I took home with me, so I wanted to take the opportunity to write some of those thoughts down and share them with you:

     Because it was written over a long period of time by a lot of different people engaging with God under different circumstances, the Bible has a lot to say. Some parts might even seem to contradict each other, and different people might feel different things in the Bible do or don’t “sound like God” to them.
      Sometimes that’s simply because when we read it at first-blush or at the surface level, we’re just misunderstanding the point or missing necessary context. Or maybe the “conventional application” of those words has missed the mark all this time. Or maybe God had a message that was relevant to a certain people at a certain time and place but was never meant to be applied universally. Or maybe human error or human interference in the text took place at some point in the last few millennia.
     There’s no hard-and-fast rule to determining what’s baby and what’s bathwater. What is God’s word and what isn’t. If there was, there’d only be one denomination and religious conflict would be a thing of the past. But I find it helpful to have a touchstone for when something I read makes me feel lost.
     For me, that touchstone is Jesus. My personal faith treats the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as the central revelation of aspects of God’s nature, God’s priorities, and God’s will. If I’m having trouble finding God’s message in something I read in the Bible, I can always try to bring it into contact with Christ’s life experiences, actions, or teachings, and see where there are commonalities and where they come into conflict. From there, I’ve created another avenue to seek what God’s trying to tell me in this moment.
     If something I read fits with my understanding of Jesus’ message and will, then I approach it in one way. If it doesn’t jive with the God I see revealed through the work and word of Jesus Christ, then I approach it another way.
     What I’m describing here is of course a kind of bias. I have a Jesus bias. I have other biases as well. And there’s no way to encounter Biblical text without our own inherent biases having an impact. But recognizing those biases, remembering to question and analyze them, and applying them consciously and appropriately… that makes all the difference.


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