“I try,” said I.
Jim grinned, “Well, that’s good. Now, I’ve got a question. Doesn’t the Bible tell us to love one another?”
“Well, I’m trying to love people where I work at the Post Office.”
“Mmm-hmm.” I can be a good listener when fried chicken is around.
“It’s good to cheer up people, isn’t it?”
Jim proceeded, “There’s one girl, she’s married and so am I. But I keep showin’ her my love. Isn’t that what the Bible says to do?”
The chicken traversed my tonsils. I wiped my mouth.
“If I understand you right, no. The Bible says just the opposite. Like, ‘don’t desire your neighbor’s wife.’”
Jim protested that he was just trying to spread love, that everyone should be more lovin’, and that his coworker was loveable.
I recall there was tasty chocolate meringue pie as the conversation lurched to a close. After Jim excused himself from the table, his sister rolled her eyes and sighed, “That Jim, he’s a rascal.”
Driving home, I thanked God that by means of fried chicken in my mouth He had prevented me from approving sin. Two blessings in one stroke! What a mighty God we serve! I was wondering if I could avoid saying other stupid things by keeping my mouth full. Then a rather disturbing question intruded.
Don’t I come to the Bible much like Jim?
I want confirmation, not correction. I want comfort, not challenge.
Just like Jim.
Over the next few days, I roughed out some ways that might make my Bible study less biased. Let me preface this list by saying I applied and continue to apply these attitude adjustments to me, not to others. But I recommend these attitudes.
I urge against correction as a goal or practice for Bible study in a group. But I realize this: I need correction.
If correction doesn’t come from my personal Bible study and reflection, then how is God going to correct me? The two main ways left to correct me are painful: reproach from other people, and humbling life events.
An essential exercise in time of decision is to open myself to actions I should take if research contradicts my assumptions and hopes. I want to be more open than the guy we kids studied Sunday. In Matthew 19, a rich guy comes to Jesus, asking, “What should I do to assure myself eternal life?” The rich guy was keeping the commandments. So Jesus challenged him to go to the next level: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give all your money to the poor; then you will have treasure in heaven. And then come, follow Me.” The young man went away sad because he was very wealthy.
When was the last time you went to the Bible for confirmation, and got a challenge?
When was the last time you opened the Bible expecting admonitions to do more, and instead got comfort and encouragement?