So. It has been several months since my last blog post, a fact for which I feel I must apologize. I could throw out several excuses such as the busyness of getting married, a new school year, ministry, etc. However, I do not believe any of these is a sufficient reason for me to not be writing. I have been very convicted of late by my laziness and selfishness. If I am a member of the body of Christ, and writing is a gift He has given me (I assume it is, given past responses), then am I not obligated as a member of the body to use my gifting for the benefit of others? I most certainly am (see 1 Corinthians 12:7). So my lack of effort in this area appears to me to quite obviously be sin (James 4:17). I have not made a point of sharing the truth that God has shown me through His word, I have made little effort in this area of writing, or my life in general, of encouraging others and proclaiming the beauty of Christ and His Gospel. So this is my apology, and I intend to labor more earnestly in this area in the future. Please call me on it if I don’t.
To shift gears slightly, as you will see above, the name of this blog is Stopping to Think. Even the url cdubthinking.blogspot.com, contains a mention of that word Think. I have been, if you will allow the phrase, thinking much about thinking lately. Much of this has been spurred by my reading of John Piper’s book entitled, “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.” So before I continue, much of what I am about to say is in Piper’s book. I am inclined to word things differently, so I will probably quote little or none of it directly here, but many of the ideas are in fact borrowed.
In Christianity today, and I suppose at other times throughout history, there has been much “kick-back” against the place of thinking in our faith. We see faith and loving God as something that takes place merely in our heart, or our emotions, or our soul. But to bring in the realm of the mind, well, now you’ve just killed the whole premise of faith and love, right? Not quite. You see, we often look at faith and love as things which are entirely abstract, having no real grounding in this world of reality in which we live. Love is a mere emotion which comes and goes. Faith is an idea which makes us feel more secure either in our place here on earth, or in our eternal destiny. They are very fluid words in our culture, and have very little in the way of accepted and objective meaning. I can just as easily say I love my dog or have faith in the Seahawks as I can say that I love my wife or have faith that the airplane I’m riding in won’t fly apart 30,000 feet up. Same words; very different meaning. The problem we then encounter is we take our fluid interpretation of these words and attempt to apply them to Scripture. So, for example, when I am told to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I can come at it with any of my various meanings for the word “faith.” Or if I am told to love the Lord my God, I have several different definitions of love from which to draw from. The problem when we do this is that we rip any objective meaning from the Scriptures and have begun the process of removing objective truth. Reading the Scriptures in this fashion makes understanding the true meaning absolutely impossible. And this is the problem many people will point out with the Bible-there are so many interpretations, who’s to know what’s right and what’s wrong?
But let us examine our idea here in a hypothetical conversation between my wife and I:
Andie: Will, please wash the dishes.
Will: What do you mean by the word, “wash”?
Andie: You know what I mean by the word wash, it means the same thing now as the last thirty times I used it saying I was going to wash the dishes!
Will: That’s all fine and wonderful dear, but while for you the word wash means to clean them thoroughly with soap and water and rinse them with clean water and then proceed to dry them to put them away; as you do regularly; my interpretation of that word means that if I place them outside and let the dog lick them and let the rain rinse them off that I have sufficiently executed my duties.
Now, if I do the dishes my way, have I done as I was asked? No, because Andie was the one asking. Therefore, she determines both the terms used and the meaning of those terms. My interpretation is of no value if it does not agree with her intended meaning.
So if I go to Scripture and read that I am to love the Lord my God; does my 21st Century interpretation of the word “love” affect what is meant by the writer of that verse? No. Rather, in order to understand the writer correctly, I need to attempt and understand what the original intent of the writer was. Scripture interprets Scripture, as Calvin would have it. So the question is this-do we read the Bible in order to understand what it means? So often I hear people say that we are to read the Bible because it is God’s roadmap for life, or an instruction book, or in a more secular sense, full of good teachings and sayings. However, Scripture itself attests to the fact that it is God’s inspired revelation of Himself. Is it useful for my life? Absolutely; in 2 Timothy the Apostle Paul makes that very clear. He also makes clear the point of the Scripture-to reveal to us Jesus Christ. The point of the Bible, God’s written Word, is to turn our eyes to Jesus, the Word become flesh (John 1). So when we look at the Scripture we have to ask ourselves some questions as we wrestle through a text. We have to engage our brain. What is the first and greatest commandment? Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” Heart. Soul. Mind. Not one of the above. All of them. And all of them, in their entirety. All your heart, all your soul, all your mind. I will write soon about some specific ways to do this, but this is my challenge to you as you read the Word-think about it!
Psalm 119:15, “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.”