bits from bob....
Consider the following quote from Rachel Held Evans:
God chose not to communicate to us in bullet points, instead he is using poetry, letters, laws, prophecy, proverbs. …So often we use the Bible as a way to end a conversation when I believe it was meant to generate conversation. ...The Bible isn't a blueprint and I think that's on purpose, …we're not supposed to have everything spelled out for us, I think we're supposed to be living in community. ...We're part of this dynamic, ongoing, centuries old conversation with God and with one another precisely because the Bible is difficult to understand. And I think that's on purpose, because being a person of faith isn't about being right, it's being part of a community, it's about being in relationships. If we had a blueprint, what would we have to talk about?
You may not agree with all of the above. I do not totally agree. But the quotation raises an important question. What do we spend our lives talking about? Are we talking about the blueprint or pattern of Scripture without talking about God’s purpose? This may be a stumbling block for those who read the Bible through the lens of Restoration. Are we talking so much about the pattern that we miss the bigger picture?
For those who see in the Bible a blueprint or pattern, can we also see that the Bible fits into God’s purpose and plan to help us arrive somewhere else? Is not the ultimate eternal intent greater than merely talking about the forms? Does all our talk and discussions about the forms keep us from focusing on God’s purpose for the church and in our individual Christian lives?
The forms are not wrong; I affirm that they are essential. That issue is settled both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. But the real stuff is not in the forms, but in where the forms are supposed to take us. The real purpose of God is function, so that the church works. Our focus on forms has sometimes led to a powerless Christianity that works more on checklist than commitment. Some focus on the minimum rather than the maximum. Discipleship is not a barely but an abundantly.
I am sure church history includes faithful disciples who focused almost exclusively on the forms (blueprint or pattern). I wonder, however, if discipleship is not more natural (and easier) if we see in the forms the purpose of God that the church work together in community and mutual edification, each member participating fully in the work. The solution may not be more moralizing which tends to focus on what we ought to do. The solution may be developing a passion for what God is trying to do. The solution may be in an expanded vision of all God has in store for those who faithfully follow Jesus as disciples—those who seek to be imitators of a life more than keepers of a law.