For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – Romans 8:29-31
However you view scripture, as a believer or as a skeptic (maybe both at the same time), there is no getting around the fact that the collected books of the Old and New Testaments comprise one amazing document. Genesis through Revelation, the stories offer amazing insight into the ongoing relationship between God and humankind; between Creator and creation; spiritual and physical; time and eternity; seen and unseen; known and unknown.
300-PLUS PREACHERS: When we lived in Florida, I interviewed more than 300 Christian preachers for “In-depth profile” articles featured in the Tampa Tribune.
The preachers (minister, pastor, priest, bishop, clergy, Monseigneur, padre, apostle, rector, reverend…) were Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist (Southern, Cooperative, Independent, Freewill, Primitive etc…), Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Church of God, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, United Church of Christ, Disciples Of Christ, Christian Church, African Methodist Episcopal, Metropolitan Community Church, Salvation Army, Unitarian, Foursquare… and many more.
I interviewed preachers who led mega-churches with more than 5,000 congregants, and I did stories on pastors shepherding flocks of less than 25.
I asked many different questions, and we talked about everything – from deep personal issues, to challenges in ministry, to their favorite local restaurant. Sometimes we’d end up chatting for a couple of hours or more. Later, they always told me that the stories I wrote captured the substance of their ministry and the essence of who they were.
My question was this, “What scripture is on your heart today, a passage you’d like to share with the community?”
I was surprised at how many responded with a cliché, some variance of, “The Lord gave me my life-verse when I was ______,” followed by John 3:16, or another popular memory-verse.
So I’d say, “That’s cool… but what has God been challenging you with recently, maybe this week, even today?”
You see, I think that if the scripture that’s in the front of your consciousness is more than a week old, then you really haven’t been getting into the word enough.
GOD USES SCRIPTURE: Personally, I’m not sure that I could write or speak with any authority if I wasn’t challenged, guided, and inspired by God’s word on a daily basis. This morning, for example, I returned to Romans chapter 8 (referenced in a meditation I read yesterday), and God reached in through time and space to rest the passage on my heart.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – 29-31
God knew me, and then chose me; having chosen me, God called me; and having called me, God gave me right standing with himself…. I love the sequencing in this text. Then I appreciate the way Eugene Peterson interprets verse 30: “And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun!”
God, Paul then declares, is on our side! God is alongside me! God has my back!
RAMBLE CONCLUDED: I know I’ve rambled a lot in today’s post, but I believe it is hugely important that we understand the essential thrust of The Good News. The good news is that God knows us, choses, us, calls us, restores us in relationship, and then stands alongside us.
The Bible is the good story of humankind’s struggle to understand and to receive The Good News. We don’t worship the Bible, we worship the God whose story is told in the Bible. The essential thrust of the story is reconciliation, between the Creator and the creation. This is why Jesus came!
It is a story that is new every day!