(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
When I was first asked to write for the New Normal I was actually a little concerned. You see, I like to facilitate Biblical discussion and sometimes these discussions border on the heated. I have a tendency to suggest a particular interpretation that may not be the interpretation I follow in order to sharpen my knowledge of Biblical points. If I am convinced by someone else that my interpretation is flawed or just outright wrong it helps me to learn more about God’s Word.
In a recent discussion I had with someone we were discussing the nature of the Noah story in Genesis and whether it was intended to be a historical account or if was merely an analogy that spoke of God’s unwavering disgust of sin and the lengths He will go to to eradicate it. The discussion went towards literary genre and the intent of the Noah story and a question popped into my head: if we compromise on the intent of the Noah story, whether it is real or an analogy, then where do we fall on the story of Adam and Eve in the garden? Did Moses change genres mid-book? If he didn’t then equating one story as analogy makes the other an analogy which we would see as non-Biblical because the lineage of Adam and his family is established in other areas of Scripture. This is one of those question where iron can sharpen iron and it is one of those areas that has been causing disagreements among Biblical scholars for years. Either way you look at it anything that contradicts the fact that we believe the Bible to be the inspired and infallible Word of God should be looked at as suspect. The fact that myself and the person I was in discussion with believe that fact to be true allows us to differ on things like genre and intent of the Biblical stories without worrying about offending each other. Like David Platt said during the Secret Church last year around this time “we should not part company on disagreements about secondary and tertiary things.”
I know for a fact that I am not perfect and my interpretation of Scripture is sometimes faulty (probably more often than not) and I relish these moments of iron sharpening iron where I can learn and grow in my faith.
In Matthew 22:15-46 the Sadducees, the Herodians, and the Pharisees began asking Christ questions in an effort to get Him to say things that they could use to further their case that He was dangerous. In each case, Jesus knew that they were attempting to trap Him and He crafted His answers in ways that answered their questions, pointed out their misinterpretations, and impressed them all at the same time. Jesus was a skillful communicator but that is not what allowed Him to be able to shut down these arguments so efficiently. His love for the Father and God’s Word and Jesus’ all-encompassing knowledge of the Father’s intent is what allowed Him to be victorious in these little squabbles.
Each of these challenges speaks to the lack of Love for the Father and His Word that each of these groups shared. They had created a legalistic religion drafted from the pure intent of Moses after he spoke with God on Mount Sinai and had moved so far away from what God wanted that they were blind to the truth that existed at the core of their beliefs that was handed down from God’s mouth directly. Jesus identifies that core belief when He quotes from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 the Shema. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (NIV).” Jesus also added a reference to Leviticus 19:18 when He says, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus was tying His presence, His ministry, to the Old Testament. And not just the Old Testament, the Pentateuch: the foundation of the faith of the people of Israel.
I believe that Jesus is attempting to sharpen iron with iron here by speaking the language that these people would understand but their distance from the truth was just so great that they couldn’t see Jesus as anything other than a threat. They remind me of those people who will disagree with someone just for the sake of argument.
My prayer for each of us today is that we all begin to refine and sharpen our Biblical knowledge. Study, pray, seek God’s face, and sharpen each other. Remember that we are here for each other and we are to love each other in-spite of our differences. Our differences are what make us work so well together for His kingdom. Oh, and don’t get so bogged down in the question that you lose sight of the truth.