As with anything in life, lessons learned and takeaways obtained come from experience. Sometimes experience is obtained through many different trials and errors (like riding a bike), sometimes experience is gained through years and years of practice (like playing the piano) and sometimes experience just smacks you upside the head.
I got smacked.
Let me first say that I had fully known already the lesson since it is a form of my sermon each and every week. When we read scripture we MUST understand context first. We cannot “learn” what is going on if we do not understand the surrounding “going ons”. Who is the author? What are they attempting to convey to the reader? What is the surrounding information that they are writing or talking about? WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT HIM (in other words, what is God revealing to us…to you?)? Once we have that information we can then dive into the text itself, see, AND HEAR what they are saying and THEN we can find the application within our own lives.
Relating to the text can only happen when we understand the text.
To understand where this is all coming from please read Psalm 137 (which I preached last week).
I’ll wait for you while you read it…..
Done? Let’s proceed….
Did you catch those last two verses? “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” If you are anything like me…you are now slightly uncomfortable. How is that happy? Why would that be happy? What kind of person finds joy in the horrific slaughtering of infants? Here is where we need to understand the overall book of Psalms. Here is where we need to understand what the people of Israel are experiencing. Here is where we need to understand why their emotions are so rough. Here is where we need to feel their anger. And most importantly (which brings me to this blog)…here is where we need to allow their voice TO BE THEIR VOICE and not ours!
So often we want to insert our own thoughts into scripture. So often we may find writings and verses that are uncomfortable to us so we cast them aside or ignore them. So easily we find ourselves making scripture say what we want it to say and not allowing Scripture to tell us what it says. We must remember that this is the book of God – not the book of humans. It’s God’s revelation to us, not our revelation and desires to HIM (2 Tim 3:16-17). Scripture is full of writings of joy and happiness but also anger and atrocities at the hands of people…it’s a history of how people act, it’s a revelation of God’s acting IN RESPONSE to what we have done and continue to do.
I apologize if you’re looking for me to break down Psalm 137 – but that’s not what this blog is about (if you want me to dive into that Psalm reading then jump over and watch or listen to my sermon from yesterday here). But what I wanted to do was remind us all that we must allow the Spirit of God to reveal to us what Scripture says – ALL OF IT…even the tough and uncomfortable ones. We must allow the writers (be it from the Epistles, the Gospels, the History writings, the Poems or the Prophets) to reveal to us the struggles and joys as they see them and experienced them – because what they are ultimately doing is revealing what a relationship with God looks like. Both in good times and bad. Both in joys and in anger.
Ultimately we must remember that Scripture is not here to help me get what I want, or read what I want or only heed those verses and commands I am comfortable with. Scripture is about God revealing His story of restoration and salvation through Jesus Christ and the continued sanctification through the Holy Spirit and how that has looked throughout history. Scripture is about teaching the reader, and reminding the reader, how to walk in His light in an ever-increasingly dark world. It’s about understanding God and realizing his grace and love upon our lives – and ultimately coming to the realization that we deserve none of that grace.
Above all that, we must ultimately remember that it’s not MY voice, but His. And I think that’s the lesson we all need to remember and learn – and it’s what I was reminded of last week as I worked through Psalm 137.
Oh….and sometimes lessons hurt when they hit you…but that’s probably a separate blog entry.
Just My 2 Cents and Thoughts