Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For Better or Worse

I want to spend my life loving God and loving people,
being in community,
creating community where there is none,
reaching into abandoned places,
bringing light to the darkness.

This period of waiting seems counterproductive, even counter intuitive.  If I want to love God and people, shouldn't I just get out there and do that? Maybe. But this time of waiting has its purpose, I'm sure.

I feel that this particular time of "waiting" on the Lord is precisely the right time for me to dig into Scripture and unearth truth, truth I have seldom seen before, truth the church has not taught me, truth unobstructed by my middle class American upbringing.

I will always read the Bible as a white, American female, because that is what I am, but, I can do my best to understand the cultural nuances and assumptions that litter my mind as I read.

I want to read the Bible as a 1st Century Middle Easterner.

How will this help me love people? Valid question.

The Bible, in ancient days, was not a nicely packed together book, individually bound, in several different languages and translations. It was a bunch of individual stories, histories, and letters meant to be read aloud to groups of people who would listen intently then apply the truth they heard.  With the invention of the printing press, Bibles became personal possessions and one was now able to read and interpret the Word of God alone, a way it was not originally intended to be applied.

The Words of God were always to the collective, to a group, a Body of believers.  Because of our individualistic Western society, we misread Scripture by asserting certain individualistic ideas/words into passages where it didn't exist. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:19 reads, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were brought with a price."

Most of us, including myself, would read that as meaning my body belongs to God and I should make sure I'm doing everything to take care of it because it is where the Holy Spirit dwells. A lot of Christians cite this verse as the reason to stop smoking or drinking. However, the "you"s in that verse are plural (Hebrew has the plural form of "you" while we make things up like "ya'll" or "yous guys"), meaning not an individual, but the collective.  That verse could be better understood as saying, "All of you together are a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is among the body of believers, whom God gave to His people (collectively). You, as an individual, are not your own because you belong to this Body. Christ paid the penalty for all of you together."

We read as individualists and could potentially misunderstand entire passages by doing so.

I'm starting to understand God's heart for His Body. Not just the individual members that make up the Body, but the Body itself. The Body of believers who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are walking out their salvation with "fear and trembling" as Paul says in Philippians 2.

By understanding the Bible as a love letter written to a collective group of people and not individuals, I am beginning to better understand God's heart for community, for drawing people together to live out their lives together, sacrificing for one another, caring for one another, loving one another when it is painful. Even loving  one another when it could get us mocked or killed.

I'm beginning to understand, really understand, I am only a small part of this Body and I can't do it alone.

When I married Christ, I married His Church.

We are in this together. For better or worse.

If you want to help support my small part in this Body through my internship with Mission Year, you can do so here:

You will find my name in the drop down box.

"Mission Year is a year long urban ministry program focused on Christian service and discipleship. We take teams of people, place them in an area of need, and help them to serve people and create community. We are committed to the command of Jesus to “love God and love people,” by placing the needs of our neighbors first and developing committed disciples of Christ with a heart for the poor."

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this... I can't wait to see how God rocks the world through you lady<3