My Bible Is True—But JESUS IS TRUTH

GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitNext week I plan to bring this fourteen-post series to a close.

Thanks for reading along with me as I’ve attempted a preliminary look at factors that can cause me to see one of God’s children as an imposter; rather than as one who is in fact my holy sister or brother loved by our Father. We could just be reading our Bible from different perspectives.

When I look at my own church tribe—not to mention when I consider others that claim God as Father and Jesus as Lord—I see a wide variety of views, beliefs and definitions of doctrine.

Within my church heritage we gather to worship with different understandings of discipleship, roles of men and women in worship, heaven, hell, sacrifice and money, local church function and communion. Certainly not a complete list. How about a common view of John’s Revelation among us?

truth6If we were to place a random fifty of us in a room we could fill multiple whiteboards with lists of our own counter views drawn from our Bible. I dare say some of our differences would center on what we define as doctrine.

Yet, we hold in common the belief that our Bible is true. We believe that our Bible was designed, preserved and inspired by God.

What is it that could help us extend a greater portion of grace to each other?

I have come to believe that perhaps our search in scripture is for the wrong truth. Maybe we should first look for JESUS THE TRUTH.

truth7Is my truth search for procedure and for the purpose of building my own body of doctrine? Rather, shouldn’t I place at the forefront of my reading the one who assumed the very definition of truth?

Jesus declared—as a matter of fact—“I am the way and the Truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The entirety of the Old Testaments moves toward the introduction of Jesus Messiah. The Gospels record his life, death and resurrection, and the remainder of the New Testament his presence as THE TRUTH empowering the church.

With Christ at center stage of Holy Scripture shouldn’t He be the Truth lens through which I read my Bible?

I can trust Jesus to be true.

Now back to our differences in viewpoint drawn from our Bible.

truth14Were we to look first at Jesus, how can we then deal with such disagreements as the roles of men and women, worship, heaven, hell, sacrifice and giving, local church function and communion?

What if I explored Jesus’ example and instruction found in the Gospels? What is Jesus intent. What happens at each encounter? Is his attempt to teach something significant beyond the literal encounter that is a mere illustration of his point?

Is his concern really how I calendar communion or is his concern that I recognize the cleansing power of his body and blood on my behalf through the symbols of bread and wine? And from that recognition, I am to observe his symbols with consistency and humility.

Is it important to Jesus that I speculate on the specifics of heaven and hell? Isn’t his concern and intent that I set my focus on him and by so doing I will live with him eternally?

Isn’t the reality of eternal separation from the Holy the real deterrent of hell rather than how I might envision its hellish features?

truth1Last evening in a re-read of the late Henri Nowen’s book, In the Name of Jesus, I came across this passage that clearly expresses the core consideration of this post:

But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative (page 32).

If we will only listen to Jesus speak and grow more familiar with his life, priorities and the way he treated people, don’t you think JESUS THE TRUTH will give us more common ground as we read our Bible?

And, as we make the effort to grow in love with Jesus, I suspect our Bible will sound more and more alike. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: My Bible Is True—But JESUS IS TRUTH

Life with The Holy Supper

GodReflection: Life in the Holy Presence

garyguarujaIt is not an easy exercise to look afresh at the Holy Supper.

Through the centuries we humans have fought each other about its content, logistics and meaning.

Should members from the first century drop in and see how the 21st century church observes the supper they would not recognize our tiny emblems or our procedures.

Perhaps that is ok.

I am a member of a church tradition that has long honored a weekly participation in the Holy Supper. I like the idea of supper observance on the first day of the week as symbolic of Jesus first day of the week resurrection.

supperaThe truth is Jesus did not give instructions as to frequency.

However, it was on the first day of the week—the day of the resurrection—when Jesus first appeared to his disciples. The eye witness John tells us:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)

Luke begins an account of Paul at a church in Troas with, On the first day of the week we came together to break bread (Acts 20:7).

I might note that the commotion and delay caused by a young man who fell asleep and from a second story window resulted in a subsequent miracle that delayed the service into the predawn hours of the next morning before the “break bread” took place.

I’ve often heard that the weekly frequency of Sunday communion is because Jesus commanded us to do so. I doubt seriously it is in line with Scripture to attribute a frequency command to Jesus.

It is worthy of mention that the purpose of the Holy Supper isn’t to verbally rehearse the horrors of crucifixion. Jesus was only one of thousands executed in that manner.

supper16So what is at the heart of the Holy Supper that makes it color my walk?

If I were to select one word to cover its significance I would choose the word sustenance. Jesus picked the two life sustaining commodities most familiar to the people—bread and wine.

He raised the bread before his disciples and declared, “Take and eat; this is my body.” As he tore shares from the loaf he wants them to know, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 

It was not a new symbol.

Previously they hear him teach, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” And later as the disciples recall the Master’s words they must have remembered his remarkable claim, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

It was common bread—not the rich food of nobility—that provided the daily sustenance of life found in their homes and their markets that Jesus raised as a symbol.

SupperbSurely, every first century disciple of Jesus had the “Jesus is living bread” thought invade their mind each time bread was placed upon their table or pulled from their sack lunch.

It must have brought a real sense of joy and hope to assemble with fellow believers as they raised and shared the bread to affirm their lives were sustain in Jesus.

Paul reminds me that I break the bread to affirm my participation in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16).

Then Jesus lifts the cup.

Like bread, Jesus tied the wine to his DNA.

supper13Earlier in their presence he taught “I am the true vine.” He made what must have seemed like an outrageous claim the first time they heard it, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

The red juice of the vine fills the cup.

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.” And he explains, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

And so the symbolic blood of the cup seals the covenant of promises from the Holy.

Paul reminds Corinthian Christians we drink the cup as a cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ.

supper3We drink the cup and eat the bread to remember the promises.

The promises flow from what the Holy did at Jesus’ resurrection. God, Spirit, and Son gifted eternal forgiveness and eternal life. It was a covenant sealed by the Holy with the blood of Jesus and brought to remembrance by the blood of the grape. 

The promise is Jesus’ sufficiency to sustain my walk and everything I might encounter while I live on the face of planet earth. 

The promise is the next resurrection and the return of Jesus to live at my side and at the side of every disciple who has placed their trust in God and the Son. 

The promise is nothing less than eternal perfection lived with the Holy and without the pain and destruction common to my current reality.

supper18The apostle Paul says it this way: For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

It seems life with the Holy Supper is so much more than my feeble attempt to slow down and give it a few minutes of my attention.

I would love to hear your unique perspective as to how you experience life with the Holy Supper.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Life with The Holy Supper