Friday, March 2, 2018

Learning the Story

All this week, we've been looking at passages in the Scriptures that call to mind other passages for those that would have known these Scriptures very well. Unfortunately, much of the church today no longer falls into this category; we do not know the Scriptures well enough to understand where they pick up on themselves and carry through these threads of God. 

And that is nothing but our own fault.

Because God is very clear that it is our responsibility to teach the next generations the story of our God, to recall His history and bring it to life for them in such a way that when it is no longer their history (when they have not been alive to see it), they will still know it well enough to see its threads as they, too, walk with Him.

Just take a look at Deuteronomy 6. In his final instructions to the people of Israel, Moses reminds them to tell the story of their deliverance out of Egypt to their children and to their children's children. The truth is that those telling the story were but children when it happened, now the survivors of Israel after wandering for 40 years as punishment for those whose story it truly was, and Moses and the Lord recognize that they are one generation away from Egypt not being their story. Not only that, but they are one generation after that away from the wilderness not being their story. And one generation after that, everything about God is suddenly arbitrary and the good land they live in? That's how it's always been. Isn't it? 

Just that quickly, we worship God for the very same reason that we use, say, brand X of laundry detergent; we just always have. So we do. Or whatever.

I'm telling you - we are that one generation. We are that next generation, the one right on the edge of losing all of the stories. The Exodus is already "not our story." When we read it, we don't read ourselves in it. We don't consider Egypt part of our background. We don't think of our own bondage. We have lost sight of our fathers, no longer calling ourselves children. 

The wilderness is already "not our story." When we read it, we don't read ourselves in it. We don't consider wandering part of our background. We don't think of our own waywardness. We have lost sight of our disobedience, our grumbling, our uncertainties. 

The church of the 1950s is already "not our story." When we read about it, we don't read ourselves in it. Oh, how backward they had it, we think. We don't think of our need for repentance or for Bible preaching or for evangelism. Those are things of the past, totally disconnected from our lights 'n lasers, coffeeshop Christianity of today. 

We don't know the biblical stories well enough any more to see the threads of God still woven through our lives, and we don't know the story of our churches well enough to see them, either. We are a generation for whom, if we are not already there, God is almost completely arbitrary. Because we are no longer rooted down in Him. We worship Him because, well, because we have always worshiped Him. Just the way that we have always used brand X. Or whatever. 

What I hope you've seen through this week's post is how rich a history of Christianity can make our faith. Being able to read one passage or witness one event and know instantly how it ties into the history of Christianity, to have one thing automatically trigger a memory of another, is not only beautiful, but incredibly vital to having a living, thriving, meaningful faith. It's why we have to know our Scriptures. It's why we have to know our churches. It's why we have to know our God. 

So we recognize what He's doing here. Because it's far more than just what we're doing here, and our Christianity seems to miss so much of that. 

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