My Desert Church


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portrait4I am reminded again of my thesis in this series of post. No two people on God’s planet earth read the Bible through identical lens. Each of us bring broad strands of diversity to the Holy Text.

For this reason, as I begin this post I am aware that many of you will find little that is parallel to your own experience. Perhaps, others will pick up on something that will send you down your own private memory lane.

However, I cannot make any attempt at being honest with my own Bible without the admission that my desert church plays a major role—probably more than I realize—in the way I read all these decades later.

From my childhood town in the heat of the Chihuahuan Desert it is safe to assume we did not have the magic formula on how to do church.

church8It is not too much of an overstatement to say my church was also my family. True, some of its adherents were members of my genetic family while others just felt like it. From my young perspective, our church lived family.

Like family my desert church could trace its own genetic origin back to the eighteen hundreds tied closely to the proposition that we too could be identical in form, function and purpose to the first-century New Testament church.

worldview8The Bible was held with great esteem by our church family. A high premium was placed on the knowledge of right and wrong.

From the value of Scripture and the emphasis on doing right we created and were taught our own tribal traditions through conclusions drawn from previous generations and from the family pulpit.

church4aLeaders in the roles of elder, preacher, teacher, song leader and deacon set the tone for our desert church. From them we learn that arguments were to end in peace. From them we learned the contents of our Bible. From them we saw family in action.

church1bThe congregation’s pulpit played a huge role in the way I read my Bible. From baby blanket to high school graduation I must have slept, wiggled and listened to over twenty-five hundred sermons.

No, the pulpit proclaimers didn’t get it all right. They too preached from lives of diverse preparation and diverse backgrounds. But, their respect for God’s Holy Bible was never in doubt.

It is partially through my desert church formation that I read my Bible today. From that experience both right and wrong presuppositions screen my encounter with my Bible.

church7Like those of our own family tree, my desert church family was flawed by we human types who called ourselves brothers, sisters and mischievous kids. But the desert family patience, love and desire to follow God and His Son held us together.

I suspect that each of us who worship today in churches of our twenty-first century use the exposure we encounter in current congregations to form filters through which we read our Bible.

From our church tribes, their tribal origins, their traditions and their view of Scripture we all approach our Bible in diversity.

The congregational emphasis of exclusivity or acceptance of other Christ followers’ influences the way many view Scripture today. Theology and conclusions drawn through the repetition of worship songs over time create concepts and ideas in our minds eye that color the way we read our Bible.

worldview4Vibrant teachers within congregations who share an exciting Creator God are more likely to instill in students an intrigue with their Bible.

Teachers who personify a bottle of sleep medication become a barrier that can dissuade others from discovery of the richness and joy to be found at the feet of the opened book.

My hope for each of us is that in some way we might come out of our self-imposed desert places and participate as a positive corporate lens through which others can see the authentic Jesus as they join with us to read a Bible that speaks to each of our realities.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Desert Church
Gary@Godreflection.org http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Are Diverse Interpretations Legal?


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours


garyguarujadiverse9All it takes to discover how differently two people interpret the same Bible is a conversation over a cup of coffee. Honest disciples of Jesus actually hold different opinions when it comes to an encounter with Holy Scripture.

The Bible is inspired by God. It is interpreted by flawed humans.

I would think it to be apparent that when it comes to the Bible—one  size doesn’t all.

Scripture1Some believe silence within the Bible equates to license while fellow disciples are sure silence prohibits anything not specifically addressed in the sixty-six Biblical books and letters. Both groups draw their conclusions from their Bibles.

I find in my Bible support of the death penalty while others read Scripture as teaching the exact opposite.

One is a committed pacifist yet another believes in justifiable war. Both views are drawn from Scripture.

diverse1Recently, while doing some spring cleaning I came across a ten-year old aerial photo of a small section of Sao Paulo the thirty-plus million populated city of Brazil. The picture was captured at such an elevated altitude that the thousands of skyscrapers appear as no more than little stacks of legos.

From this lofty point of view the essence of the city is missed. The texture of buildings, streets, parks, people and culture is not apparent. What is core to the city is absent.

The richness of the city that comes in its diversity is missing from the picture. The aerial snapshot completely failed to share the down-on-the-street view.

diverse8Like an “on-the-street” view of the city I see my Bible as rich in texture.

Texture is purposefully reflective of a God who majors in layer upon layer of richness and variety. Both gush from His creative nature.

I cannot read my Bible without the backdrop of inventive diversity that flows from Creator God.

The God of creation ties Himself tightly together with variety as the common thread to make Holy art from the diverse.

diverse4Each created one is unique and different from all others. Of the seven billion residents on planet earth no two people are alike. Yet God links us diverse ones together with Him—and each other—by His Spirit.

To speak to a diverse people God left a diverse Bible.

The text is so rich I can never claim to have mined it to its deepest depth.

Due to the one of a kind design of each person created by God the richness and the texture of the Bible ministers to every individual at just the right point of need.

In a time of trial, I may see for the first time an interpretation of a certain verse or a particular section from my Bible that specifically fills my soul. In turn, another person may read the same verses hundreds of time over a lifetime and never encounter the exact same fit that so ably fit me.

diverse7Any person whose face is turned toward God, Son and Spirit finds relevance within Scripture that is perfectly aligned to fit a unique situation.

The result provides growth and care at a time of need.

It seems to me the God who created diversity designed a rich Biblical text that not only allows but demands diverse interpretations to meet His ultimate objective—to form His creatures into His image.  

I would say, diverse interpretations of the Bible are not only legal but a fact of reality. What do you think? What would you add to this reflection?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Are Diverse Interpretations of the Bible Legal?

Gary@Godreflection.org http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com