Monday, July 17, 2017

Reading (and writing, and blogging) the red letters

I've been slowly reading the Sermon on the Mount. The emphasis here should be placed on the word "slowly." I'll take a brief passage, write it out in a journal that I bought just for this purpose, and then just think about it, recall it, mull it over, for the next few days. In the course of that process, I might be reminded of other Scriptural texts on the same theme and write out one or two of those as well.

The conviction that lies behind this procedure (well, one of them) is that we Christians don't think about and talk about the things that Jesus thought about and talked about. Not enough, anyway. We tend to put the focus on other things, and then--maybe--draw on a saying or two of Jesus for support. In our sermonizing--this is my experience anyway--we would much rather begin with Paul and may or may not let Jesus in on the conversation. Or we might begin with Calvin (or Jonathan Edwards, or Martin Luther, or C. S. Lewis, or whomever) then draw upon Paul, and maybe throw in a quotation of one of the Davidic psalms, but never ever get to the teaching of Jesus.

It was my decision, in response to this lack of focus on the words of Jesus, to correct for it in my own Bible reading by starting with the words of Jesus. Not excluding, mind you, any of the rest of the Bible, but beginning with the "red letters" and letting the focus be where Jesus put it, rather than relegating Jesus to a secondary or tertiary reference at best.

That's the idea. That's how I have organized my Bible reading lately. It's a slow process, and if I keep it up, it may take me the rest of my life to get to the last red letters in the New Testament.

In terms of my secondary reading, Bible commentaries and that sort of thing, I will, of course, be looking for authors that mirror the teaching of Jesus. If Jesus, for example, seems to put a very high value on peacemaking, I want to hear what modern commentators have to say on the subject. And I'm hoping for this emphasis to fuel my future blogging and sharing here (for example, yesterday's daily prayer from Scotty Smith). I want to commend and share that which puts the emphasis where Jesus put it (this, by the way, will correspond quite closely to the fruit of the Spirit, since the Spirit of Jesus naturally cherishes and promotes that which Jesus cherished and promoted).

That's all. But expect to hear more on the subject in the coming posts.

Now here's a song:

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