Monday, June 11, 2007

What Goes In...

Recently on another blog, a very bright seminary classmate of mine bemoaned the way many use the scriptures. A practice called “proof-texting” was one object of my friend’s ire. “Proof-texting” is, more or less, pulling a small portion of scripture out of context to support a position already held by the author or speaker.

The truth is most of us engage in the practice. We remember short, well-known bits and we quote them at convenient times. Your perspective or political predilections don’t really matter; we all like short definitive feeling sound bites. The trouble is we misapprehend the totality of the scriptures, if we favor unexamined and easily digestible.

There are many treatments for what ails us. The most obvious one is serious engagement with the Bible. The more you know and study the more aware you become of the complexity.

Just this morning, I read Morning Prayer with a smattering of the faithful. (Which, by the way, we do at St. Columba’s.) The Gospel was Luke 18:31-43. There are two distinct movements to this particular passage. The first movement is Jesus offering his disciples insight into his future in Jerusalem. The disciples don’t get it. The lesson remarks that the meaning is somehow hidden from them. They are blind to the reality of Jesus’ words.

The second movement recounts Jesus’ interaction with a blind beggar on the way to Jerusalem. The blind man asks to see, and Jesus affects new sight for him. So, Jesus is the grantor of new vision.

Separate, these vignettes seem very different. One is a passion prediction and an attempt to reveal more to the disciples, and the other is a healing story. Together, there is much more. The insider disciples are blind, and the outsider blind man sees. This all occurs “on the way,” and that highlights the active nature of discipleship. The healing occurs within the framework of anticipation of the passion. This tells us the passion itself is a source of vision. The healing of the blind man takes place as Jesus is thinking about his death. This points to the focus of God on real human need, despite the reality of suffering awaiting Jesus.

These are only a few insights gained from reading the two movements as they are written. So much would be lost, reading each story in isolation. Sound bites rob us of the richness offered us. We can’t settle for the snippets read in worship. It is of great importance that we read and study the Word. If we are only willing to put a little in, are we surprised at the little returned.

No comments: