Friday, April 17, 2009

The Story of Scripture: Understanding & Interpreting the Bible From 30,000 Feet

Have you ever showed up late for a move? It's a sick, sick feeling, isn't it? It's not uncommon to see people briskly walking, even running with  popcorn and drink in hand, as the look for the number corresponding to their movie ticket. They run, because they understand something very fundamental to all movies and novels. For, it is in the first few opening scenes (or pages) that the story begins to take shape and characters development. Missing the nuances surrounding the plot or character can leave one lost, sometimes for the entire movie.  Very few people will simply wander into a movie that's already started, even if it started only minutes ago. Rather, they'll wait until a later showing.

Likewise, who buys a novel and turns to page 55 and begins reading? No one! For we acutely understand that every sub plot is only fully understood within the context of the larger plot these sub-plots find themselves in. 

As oddly as this sounds, many violate these very principles every day with the greatest Story ever penned - Scripture. We often read it, and live off the life of the sub-narratives, without a clear understanding of the overarching plot of Scripture. For example, many love the story of Daniel in the lions den. In fact, for many adults, that's all they know about Daniel. Understanding this element of Daniel's life may make for a great lesson, sermon or flannel graph. However, if that's all I know, I've missed the whole point of Daniel's life, mission and purpose. I fail to see how Daniel fits in to the unfolding narrative of Scripture. This is true with all of our favorite Bible characters. We need more than their story, we need to understand how they fit in to the larger story. Without such insight, we can never accurately understand and interpret Scripture. Further, our hopes of becoming "biblical Christians" living out the message of Scripture in the day and age that we live in will be virtually impossible.

Starting this Wednesday at Southgate, we'll be taking a five-week tour of Scripture. We'll be looking not only at the Story of Scripture, we'll look at the different ways it has been read and interpreted. Our ultimate goal is, how can I apply and live the essence of Scripture in the time and place that I find my existence.

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