Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
So Friday I am sitting with three close friends over lunch. Close is a relative term. To clarify, we’ve sat and listened to each others’ worst moments in life. The times we felt like God abandoned us or wasn’t there. Scenes full of fear, shame, guilt, loneliness, sadness, and anger. When one of them looks at me, there is little room to hide; nor do I really want to. The bond is rare. We sit discussing the direction of the group we are apart of which had just ended. It’s a group solely focused on telling our stories. Connection happened throughout the spring. We sipped tastes of perfect relationship.
We long to find a way to continue sipping. So we brainstorm. The idea of doing a book/Bible study is swiftly torched. As one of them puts it, we’re not interested in some “religious regiment of study.” There’s an expletive in there somewhere, too. I am amazed at the hostility he feels towards a group Bible study or marriage study book. Yet, he speaks for me as well. I know making a study the focus of our time only degrades the quality of the group. It grieves me, though, thinking that our gut reaction to studying the Bible mirrors a child’s reaction to the offer of Robituusin cough medicine. Larry Crabb does an excellent job at putting words to what has happened.
We have managed to take the only real living Book and squeeze the life out of it with an exacting exegesis that engages the brain but not the relationship-starved soul, and then we arrange the remaining dust into neat little piles that we call theology- the study of God. How utterly terrible!
I know. I do it, too. I long to approach the Word as a life offering from One who wants to touch my “relationship-starved soul.” That’s what our stories group did in each and every one of us. A taste of what’s to come. And that’s what we need. I love Jesus in John 5. The sterile Pharisees are there, having studied the scriptures extensively and intellectually, yet having missed the point. Jesus, full of life, sets them straight, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”