27 Pieces (January 18, 2013)

…Opening To…

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.” (Søren Kierkegaard)

…Listening In…

From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. To the Thessalonians’ church that is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to all of you. (1 Thessalonians 1:1; context)*

…Filling Up…

The fourth thing you might not know about the Bible (and again, primarily about the New Testament) is the fact that the 27 texts, which make up the second bookcase of the Bible’s library, are not the only texts that were written because of Jesus in the couple hundred years following his death and Resurrection. There were countless other letters, revelations, sermons, and accounts of the Gospel floating around Greece and Asia Minor in the first few centuries after everyone had to get a new calendar.

The church settled on the 27 we have (bonus points if you can name them without looking!) based largely on three criteria: attribution to a first or second generation follower of Jesus, widespread use throughout the church (so the letters that went viral made it in), and sound theological doctrine. Of course, this last one was open to more interpretation than the first two because the church itself was concurrently attempting to establish sound theological doctrine. (Remember the chicken-and-egg thing from yesterday.) Indeed, folks were skeptical of the Gospel according to John for a long time because some fairly whacky people really loved it. (The church called them “heretics.”) But in the end, the group who set the canon needed this account of the Gospel to settle a dispute with another heretical (but much better funded) group.

My intention here is not to despiritualize the Bible by presenting some of the nitty-gritty pieces of history behind its formation. Far from it. I find great hope in the fact that real, fallible human beings cobbled together such an amazing library of texts about God. Clearly, God was moving in that process. And I firmly believe that God moves in our lives, as well, whether we read the Bible or not. But our reading and our study of God’s movement in the lives of others helps us see and participate in that movement in our lives.

I pray that, if you are not already doing so, you pick up your Bible and read. In doing so, your imagination and your heart will open, and you will be ready for an encounter with God.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you were the constant presence in the lives of those who wrote and compiled the Bible, and you always called them back when they strayed from you. Help me to hear your voice calling me back to you, both in the words of the Bible and in the words you write across the sky of my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, hoping for an encounter with you as I read about your presence in the lives of your people.

* This is first verse of perhaps the very first extant Christian text.

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