“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. -John 5:39 (NRSV)
Not very long ago, a friend from a small group I attend started a Bible study on another night which I am also involved in. My intention was to get very involved in an in-depth study of God’s word– so I would be prepared for any argument or discussion that might come along. I must confess that my decision to really get into the Scripture has been as much ego-driven as anything. I was expecting to come away with some fantastic pearls of wisdom that I could both share with the readers of my blogs and possibly impart to those I know– impressing them with my profound wisdom. To that end, I have not been disappointed. The first benefactor of such studies has been [and I am sure will continue to be] myself. I am learning things I was unaware I could be taught.
Sometimes these little gems (all of which are profound) are simple in their sentence structure and should be easily-reached conclusions of the mind that anybody could [and should] derive from even a minuscule amount of time reading the Bible. Often they arrive unheralded– yet right on schedule. When you least expect it, usually from a surprising source, God speaks His truth. Such was the case that very first evening of the newly-formed Bible study group. Deep in theological thought (or so we believed) a simple truth was stated: when you come right down to it, what really matters in all of this is Jesus. that is the message we came to hear– the one we need to hear.
It is so easy easy to get wrapped up in theological dogma and often give it more weight than it really deserves. The result is a separation from each other and, as Abraham Lincoln so aptly stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Satan, of course, is counting on that. He would love to render Christians as ineffective [and perhaps even working for him, unaware]. How often do people balk at the idea of attending church, citing examples of people who do not practice what they preach? It so often seems like Christians are the greatest enemies of Christ, by example of their behavior. There have certainly been many moments in my life when it would appear that I am working more for the other side than for God. There is a message in the Gospel that should not be obscured by the ideas and pompous actions of men and women.
Please don’t misunderstand me, the name of the game is serving our Lord and preaching His message of salvation. How we do this is quite clear. It goes back to the days of the Old Testament: Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NRSV)
Jesus adds a second commandment, much like the first: And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” -Matthew 22:39-40 (NRSV)