Thursday, June 07, 2007

Strong Caffeine for the Soul

Commenting on the conversation between the religious scholar and Jesus, Eugene H. Peterson notes that Jesus asks the scholar "How do you read?" [the text], not "What did you read?" Peterson continues,

"Why does the scholar ask for a definition? Clearly, because he needs to defend himself against responding to the text [love God, love your neighbor] personally. Defining "neighbor" depersonalizes the neighbor, turns him or her into an object, a thing over which he can take control, do with whatever he wants. But it also depersonalizes the scriptural text. He wants to talk about the text, treat the text as a thing, dissect it, analyze it, discuss it---endlessly. But Jesus won't play that game. The scholar has just quoted words of Holy Scripture that witness to the living word of God. They are words to be listened to, submitted to, obeyed, lived. So instead of inviting the scholar to join him in a Bible study of Deuteronomy and Leviticus under a nearby oak tree, Jesus tells him a story, one of his most famous, the Good Samaritan story, concluding, as he had begun with a question, "Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man...?" The scholar is impaled by the question: The words of Scripture can no longer be handled by means of definition, "who is my neighbor?" The text insists on participation, "will you be a neighbor?" Jesus insists on participation. Jesus dismisses the scholar with a command, "Go and do..." Live what you read. We read the Bible in order to live the word of God."
Eat This Book, 83-84.

Sadly, there is a way to read the Bible, even enjoy the Bible and yet not obey the One Whose Voice is the very life of Scripture. That's not how you read it.



At 6/08/2007 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw Man! How many times have I been guilty of this?! To "discuss" something that we should be doing as opposed to stopping the talk and actually doing it. Not debate it, not "try to get my arms around it", not even say "we should" do it. Just do it. Nike must've picked up on this a while ago.
Thanks John. You've skewered me.

At 6/08/2007 8:29 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

We've all deserved a skewering aound this issue. Nike's "just do it" does seem to apply. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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