Cut And Paste
This past weekend, my sister introduced me to the YouTube phenomenon of recut movie trailers. Pretty funny stuff.
Check out You’ve Got Mail:
And here’s a reimagined Mary Poppins:
The first thing I thought when I saw these? People do this with the Bible all the time.
Combine a bunch of actual quotes from Scripture, some creativity, and a predetermined agenda, and voila—you can make the Bible say just about anything you want it to.
The best way to ensure you don’t buy that kind of rubbish (or teach it)? Context.
My 2-yr-old, London, is loving some stories lately. She’s loved books for a while, but lately she’s really been into custom-made stories I’ll tell her before bed. Usually, the setup goes something like this:
Me: “Hey, London—how about I tell you a story?
London: “Yeah, sure!”
Me: “Okay—what should it be about?”
Me: “Okay; who else?”
London: “Redick.” (Her best friend)
Me: “Anything else?”
London: “Ummm, a horsey. And a lion. And a elephant.”
Me: “Alright. One day there was a girl named London….”
These stories can last up to 20 minutes, and London is on the edge of her seat through the whole thing. Totally engaged. Like I said, she likes books, but she’s really loving these stories—it’s a new level of interest.
The obvious reason? They’re about her.
She can’t wait to hear what happens to her; to see how she reacts when the lion comes out from behind a bush; to find out how her story’s going to end and everything’s going to be resolved.
I get it.
This is one of the reasons I love the Bible. It’s a great story, and it’s about me. I see myself throughout it, and I can’t help but be interested in what’s going to happen, how God says I’m going to react to various stimuli, and how things are going to end.
It’s as if I can sit on my Father’s lap and say, “Tell me a story about…me. And love. And hope. And danger. And rescue. And truth.”
And that’s exactly what I get.
I keep coming back to the Bible, not just because it’s true. But because it’s about me.
The Teacher As Harbinger of New Things
Hey, there. Thanks for coming back around after my 2-week break. A lot happened during the last two weeks, but posting here wasn’t one of them. I’m happy to say, though, that I’m back in the saddle. Giddyup.
Teaching Bible stories is so cool. Drama, intrigue, love, revenge, conquest, betrayal, hope, suspense, reconciliation—it’s all in there. And it’s fun to communicate the awesome things God did in the lives of people we’ve come to feel like we know.
But there’s one thing we’ve got to keep in mind as we teach.
Because if we don’t remember this thing, we’re liable to totally miss the point and contribute to a warped faith in the hearts of those we teach. So here it is:
In the end, teaching isn’t just about what God did. It’s about what God is doing.
Check out what God says in Isaiah 43—
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
God’s specifically talking here about the awesome Exodus he accomplished for his people hundreds of years before this. “Forget about that,” He says. “I’m up to something new.”
Sure, God wants us to remember—to rehearse the stories that so beautifully and powerfully communicate who He is and what He wants. But He doesn’t want us to have a faith that exists in the past—a faith that unconsciously assumes that his incredible activity has stopped.
And I don’t think He wants us to be teachers who talk (or people who think) about what He did, and not about what He’s doing.
Those of us who teach the Bible aren’t just re-tellers of what God has done in the past. We’re harbingers of the news that God is up to new things and that those we teach can be a part of them.
Teaching isn’t just about what God did. It’s about what God is doing.
The Rest of the Story
At lunch the other day, a friend and mentor of mine pointed out that the last book in the Hebrew Scriptures is Second Chronicles.
"The Hebrew Bible," he said, "ends in profound tragedy."
He explained that the last eight chapters of that last book tell the story of King Hezekiah’s and King Josiah’s failed reforms.
Their beloved nation having fallen into idolatry, Hezekiah and Josiah do their best to turn things around, to correct heavily imprinted patterns of disobedience and selfishness.
But it’s too late.
Judah will not change.
And so, like a song that ends on a minor chord, the Hebrew Bible’s last words describe a bleak reality—a finale that’s more of a fizzle than a fireworks show.
That’s one reason I’m grateful for the Book of Revelation.
The New Testament ends with a final declaration of triumph. A luminescent promise of hope. All the resolution and joy of a major chord.
Everything looks different after Jesus.