On May 25, I began a serious “listening” approach to the Bible.  (More on that what that means, later.)  And for the first time in my life I have been able to make daily Bible reading a sustained habit for more than  a couple weeks.  In 55 days, I’ve missed just two; and each of those two came with a near physical sense of being deprived.  So far I’ve made it through just two books — Romans and 1 Corinthians.

Here’s what I’ve heard.  (Note:  these are my lessons; I make no claims, not yet anyway, that they should be yours — see #11, #12, and #30.)

  1. That Christian life is all about “the obedience that comes from faith.”  (Romans 1:5)
  2. That “service” is about enslaving myself to His will.
  3. That the key to reading the Bible is doing so with a “listening heart.” (1 Kings 3:9)
  4. That the response to “troubling” parts of the Bible is neither rejection nor identification of contradiction or obsolescence.  It is to listen harder for God’s will.  It is not to substitute my judgment or my learnedness for His.
  5. That I show our repentance by our constant striving to obey.
  6. That it is the striving to obey that matters, not “getting it right” 100% of the time.
  7. That step 1 of faith is believing.  That step 2 is, having believed, to trust.  That step 3 is, having trusted, to strive to obey.
  8. That I’m still profoundly ignorant of what the Bible says.
  9. That beying the law is not to put ourselves right with God, it is to point out to us how we are sinners.
  10. That taking a listening approach requires me to regularly stay silent, to refrain from speaking, because I do not yet know enough to claim knowledge or illumination.
  11. That the lessons that come from reading the Bible are first and most importantly lessons for me, my own belief, my own conduct.
  12. That I must be sure of what God intends for me before I go out preaching “thou shalts” to others.
  13. That I serve God not to prove myself worthy, but because He is worthy.
  14. That while I can claim to be a seeker of wisdom, I cannot claim to be wise.
  15. That obedience = listening.
  16. That one of the biggest temptations I face remains the idolatry of my own work.
  17. That I am not the potter, but the pot.  And pots do not question the potter.
  18. That faith that is firm is also patient. (Isaiah 28:16, GNV)
  19. That obedience must be a stance of faith, not of fear.
  20. That trusting God means trusting the speed He chooses.
  21. That there are three required acts of faith:
    1. Realizing our salvation is by Him.
    2. Striving to obey His will in all things.
    3. Repenting when we fail.
  22. That  I must look at the Bible first as a man of faith, and only second as a man of scholarship.
  23. That the solution when something in the Bible seems “wrong” or “contradictory” is to look deeper, to pray, to be patient.
  24. That two things take precedence over obeying “human authorities”:
    1. Preaching the Lord’s Gospel.
    2. Avoiding a decrease in the credibility of one’s witness to that Gospel.
  25. That against the loving of God and His Gospel, the value of coins is trivial.  And that includes the value of coins unjustly taken by the state (or by others).
  26. That there are (at least) four locations of the Great Commandment in the Bible:
    1. Matthew 22:37
    2. Matthew 12.30
    3. Luke 10:27
    4. Deuteronomy 6:5
  27. That the “commons” is a place of shared faith.
  28. That I can use knowledge of historical context to understand the motives and rhetorical choices of the man called Paul.  However, I cannot use it to speak to God’s intent for us.  Only prayer, obedience, and submission can reveal God’s intent.
  29. That the route to salvation and Truth lies in who I follow, not in who I am tempted to not follow.
  30. That the Christian life is lived in personal relationships.  A personal relationship with God, and personal relationships with other individuals.
  31. That, as the Word of God, the Bible has multiple layers of meaning.  That, as a result, several translations each have part of the Truth.
  32. That I should not judge others, but instead concentrate on not putting stumbling blocks in the way of their obedience of God.  (Romans 14:13)
  33. That living in Christ is about mutual edification.  (Romans 14:19)
  34. That idolatry of human wisdom is still idolatry.
  35. That compared to the wisdom of God, the reason of man is bare foolishness.
  36. That if you’ve never believed yourself really smart, you can’t truly feel the depths of your own ignorance.
  37. That whoever wants to boast must boast only of what God has done.
  38. That anything built on something other than God’s foundation is nothing.
  39. That having a clear conscience does not require innocence, only an unwillingness to judge.
  40. That the problem with sexual sins, what makes them sins, is pride and idolatry:  pride in my judgment; worshiping the sexual instead of God.
  41. That moneylending isn’t the problem; that moneylending in the temple is.
  42. That if I worry about having been wronged, about my position in the world, am I not putting God somewhere other than first?
  43. That sexual practices are sinful because they put a temple of the Lord to use for something other than God’s glory.
  44. That while Paul’s positions on gender are historical, God’s are not.
  45. That having knowledge brings with it greater responsibility for temperance in its use, for the actions I take is an example to those of lesser knowledge; and part of pursuing the glory of God is not adding to my brothers’ temptations.
  46. That there is a difference between having a freedom to act, and the appropriateness of acting.
  47. That the more I fill the glass that is my mind with thoughts of God, the less room temptation can find in it.
  48. That I should affirm others when they strive to please God, even if I disagree with their view of what God requires of us, even if I think their reading of the Bible is flawed  (1 Corinthians 10:25-33)
  49. That rushing about and worrying about getting things done takes attention away from the glory of God.
  50. That successful collaboration depends on the roles played by the less capable, the less diligent, and all the other “lessers.”  The lessers are not barriers to be overcome or cancers to be excised, but necessary parts of the body needing honoring and including.
  51. That the opposite of inclusion is not exclusion, but excision.
  52. That the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

So I believe.

Share

2 Responses to “52 lessons in 55 days”

  1. David says:

    Your step seven sounds like the first three steps of OA:

    1. Admitted we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable.
    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Or as one wag put it:

    1. I can’t.
    2. He can.
    3. I think I’ll let Him. :D

  2. Iterations » What’s “better”? says:

    [...] one based on “conclusive scientific evidence”.  No, not the capital-F faith that my July 18 post was all about, but small-f faith.  The “I believe this, well, just because” sort of  [...]

Leave a Reply

All content of this blog, except comments added under names other than "Wade," are copyright © 2008, 2009 Wade E. Shilts