Friday, September 14, 2007

reflections on an outlook for a new semester

This may sound odd for a Masters of Divinity student to say, but I am being re-awakened to the importance of God's word.

I walked in on the end of a passionate talk Ken was giving at VYLC a few weeks ago, where in the context of not employing 'fun and games' youth programs and instead taking God's word seriously by teaching it to youth, I caught a vision that distracted me. My mind flashed back to The Last Samurai movie, where I remember being taken through the process of layering and crafting the steel in a Samurai sword, the result being a weapon that was razor sharp and impenetrably strong. That is what God's word is really like, our orthodoxy affirms it and Hebrews 4:12 captures it:

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

The next image that came to my mind was a rubber sword, that instead of striking through to the heart, weakly bounces off someones chest in a 'play war'. It is no weapon at all, rather a toy. This is how we often treat God's word, our orthopraxis.

Today in Christian Education and Equipping (a course centered around making and maturing disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, who in-turn can make and mature disciples of Jesus through engaging texts of scripture), Darrell Johnson read us this quote from Cal Thomas (a syndicated columnist in the USA and a guy I have met during my stint with the fellowship in Washington DC):

"The problem in our culture isn't the Clinton Administration. It isn't the abortionists. It isn't the pornographers or drug dealers or the criminals. It is the undisciplined, undiscipled, disobedient, and Biblically ignorant Church of Jesus Christ. Several years ago, a USA Today/Gallup Poll found that only 10 percent of the people who claimed to be believers read their Bibles every day. There's your problem. If you're ignorant of the Word of God, you're going to be blind to the way of God and disobedient to the will of God."

I admit to: loosing sight of the importance of God's word; not reading it daily, and often less regularly than that; for thinking that something else I have to offer would be more effective at influencing people for God's Kingdom than God's Word would be. I repent today, but the chances are that through the busyness, all the other reading required of me, the paid work we must do to keep us here, my preference to disengage... I will stumble again tomorrow.

I remember John Woodhouse saying that he was sick of hearing about Christ Church's (the church of my youth) reputation for 'good teaching' (John has a reputation as a good teacher). John's point was good teaching would be seen in the lives that were pierced and transformed by God's Word, not by reputation. I am still wary about holding up 'good teaching', I would rather see good living - I guess that's the difference between our orthodoxy and our orthopraxis.

I am excited about this renewal of the importance of God's word and it's ability to strike to the heart, rescue the captives and usher in The Kingdom. I need to stand under God's word this semester (and this lifetime). Instead of blogging about it, I need to go read it, study it, dwell on it, memorise it, be changed by it. Jess and I now also have an opportunity to teach it each week at Ekklesia.