This morning my daughter and I spent a couple of hours with a kind neighbor who has a glass jewelry-making business. She offered to let us come create some pieces of our own. The colors of the glass that we broke into shards and then placed in a design have hidden attributes. The extreme heat of the kiln transforms the glass into completely different hues. In fact, a couple of my pink pieces came out looking golden, but the overall effect was beautiful. Tomorrow they will be polished and ready after another stint through the fire.
Maybe it’s the extreme Texas heat, but I’ve been thinking about what it is like to walk through the fire. In order to achieve perfection, the glass jewelry we’re making has to pass through tremendous temperatures (upwards of 1300 degrees F) at least twice. The heat causes the glass to melt together in unique formations and also gives the top clear glass a polished sheen.
Isn’t that the way God designed our lives? He shapes us a little here and a little there. Sometimes he scores us and breaks off that which isn’t quite perfect. He cracks our hearts and re-makes them to help us become the telios (perfect) people he commands us to be. The whole Bible is a story of the ways God has shaped and re-shaped His people. Over and over again we read of the people repenting of their sins and turning back to him, only to be lured away again with the next big thing.
I’m once again delving into Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet. Today I don’t have much of a quarrel with his argument that the Bible is to be read as a Story. Not as a jigsaw puzzle. Not as someone who tries to understand the mind of God (because who ever could anyway?). What I may still quibble with him is that he continues to insist that the Bible is to be applied in our day in our way.
I believe those could be dangerous words. In Revelation 2, I read today:
“But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (`deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.
Again, in Jude, another warning:
Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.
Please know I am not in any way trying to say that the writer of Blue Parakeet is one of these false teachers. I am simply saying that I will endeavor to truly TEST EVERYTHING. I have found nothing so far that urges us to live immoral lives in McKnight’s book — except, perhaps, that some could take his assertion that we should take the Story of the Bible and apply it “in our day for our day.” Some people who believe that homosexuality is not sinful but is simply a state of being (which is what “our day”‘s culture constantly bombards us with in television and other media) could then feel free to live however they choose because they say those old mores don’t apply to today’s world. The same could be said about those who engage in the “swinger” lifestyle.
McKnight also quotes a passage from Leviticus 25 about God’s command to not charge interest and then compares it to our modern day life in which interest is ingrained in everything we do. He uses this passage as an example of something that God said that applied back then but no longer applies now. “That was then, and this is now,” is how he interprets this passage:
‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you. You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit.
He writes that in today’s world we don’t take the time to find out whether or not our mortgage company is a “brother” or not. He goes on to say,
…Until we learn to read the Bible as Story, we will not know how to get anything out of the Bible for daily living. We will not become aware how we can so easily dispense with what the Bible says about interest. And, unless we read the Bible as Story, we might be tempted to make “that was then” into “it’s also now.” But it isn’t. Times have changed. God spoke in Moses’ day in Moses’ ways (about interest), and he spoke in Jesus’ days in Jesus’ ways…And he speaks in our days in our ways — and it is our responsibility to live out what the Bible says in our days.”
Again, the warning bells are clanging in my head. For one thing, nothing in the Leviticus passage commands God’s people to not PAY interest but instead instructs them to not CHARGE interest. My husband and I follow that command. Although we pay interest on our mortgage, we do not charge interest to those who may borrow items from us. This is intentional on our part because we want to show love to our neighbors. The Lord indeed speaks to me NOW through that passage about interest.
Ack! Sounds a bit like itching ears want to hear (from 2Timothy):
3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
And that is what I am trying to do…keep my head.
So today it seems, again, that The Blue Parakeet is a bit out of tune. To be fair, I have only completed about 20% of it and am just getting started. I’ll write more posts when something else grabs me.
Lord, I pray for discernment through the power of the Holy Spirit, to teach me, to counsel me — on how to apply your Words to my life. As I struggle through this book that my church leadership put out for us to read and discuss, please give me a teachable — but wise — heart. You created me, Father, and you are continuously shaping me and molding me and heating me and cooling me just as I did today to make jewelry. I ask you to protect me and my church. Do not let men chip away at your truths or turn our individual colors into ones you have not fashioned. For we are YOUR workmanship.
It may be that I am the only Red Parakeet in a Blue Parakeet fan club!