I’ve found this quote from Eugene Peterson intriguing for a few years.
I think it’s partly our sin. One of the Devil’s finest pieces of work is getting people to spend three nights a week in Bible studies.
Peterson’s point isn’t that studying the Bible is a bad thing, he writes Bible studies after all. Instead his point is that studying the Bible shouldn’t disengage us from involvement in the world but instead lead to greater involvement in being a part of Christ redeeming the world.
I have a small group of friends that I meet with on Tuesday nights for consideration and encouragement in following Christ (you are welcome to join us if you want to). We are presently reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “Life Together.” in the reading for last week Bonhoeffer wrote and quote something similar from Martin Luther. He said and quoted the following.
The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).”
Engaging with God’s Word should push me out of my shell and comfort rather than pulling me more into it. Interacting with God’s word doesn’t lead to a cloistered life. It leads to loving our neighbors and our enemies. The Bible isn’t an excuse for navel gazing and selfishness. It is a call to action with the One who is the Word (John 1:1). After all in football you huddle up to learn the play, not to stay in the huddle.
For example, today I have been focused on Luke 12:16-21 which says:
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.
Actually I started thinking about this parable last night when I saw an episode of “Doomsday Preppers” and started wondering “how do preppers who are Christian connect with this passage? Do they just ignore it or somehow justify hoarding for the future?” It is so much nicer and easier to try and apply scripture to other people’s lives.
That type of thought doesn’t cost me anything. The problem is that as Søren Kierkegaard stated so well:
When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”
So now instead of wondering how this passage effects preppers, I am sitting in a coffee shop wondering what it would look like if I didn’t put my trust in the future in my own resources but trusted in God. What actions would result? Can I start on them right now? Not much of a start but I think I am about to be buying some coffee for people.