i stumbled on a thought while reading Rob Bell - Velvet Elvis. in a section entitled “yoke” he speaks about his conviction that the bible didn’t fall out of the sky. he begs “us” to once and for all drop the “manual-for-life” analogy and recognise that the bible was written in a real time, in a real place, and by real people.
i like what he’s saying.
that’s when i stumbled onto the thought… we (in the christian community, usually called the church) struggle to get people to do the application part of the deal. we’re good at talking. our theology (read theory) is awe-inspiring in it’s comprehensive coverage of all things pertaining to the life of a christ-follower. doctoral theses have been written about things that even Jesus doesn’t understand. (in fact I think Jesus struggles to remember the correct spelling for ecclesiology, but anyway…) as I was saying awe-inspiring theory.
but when it comes to application - to the integration of our theory into our lives - we often fall short.
could it be that the growing (and commonly held) perception that the bible is somehow a mysterious and magical book of timeless truths that just dropped out of the sky (i.e. NOT originating from real places, real times and real people) is actually at the heart of this problem with integrating biblical truth with everyday living?
i agree with Rob Bell that what makes the Bible valuable, significant and quite unique is that it records the stories of people seeking to live out their faith in the midst of the challenges of their particular times, circumstances. Perhaps more importantly it also records the personal challenges of individuals in their journeys of faith - investigating their very particular and personal challenges - from anger and murder to sexual brokenness and adultery, from failure and faithlessness to weakness and hopelessness.
what may help people to marry theory and practice - biblical teaching and faithful living - is approaching the Bible with a fresh openness - trusting that it’s greatest gift is that it records the stories of faith honestly - fear and failure, hope and triumph. But always - it’s a story about application. It’s always about making faith work in everyday circumstances!!!
we need real faith for real life. and we need to read the Bible in a way that encourages rubber meeting road.