MDR in the Mission of God 1 – The Mirror
James say that reading God’s Word can work like a mirror — you can either come away with a better understanding of your status, or you can walk away and forget how much of a mess you really are.
Taking James’ metaphor as the dominant means of internalizing Scripture, though, will lead you to another extremely dangerous error: you look into Scripture and see only yourself. A healthier way to appropriate God’s Word comes from understanding the purpose of God’s Word:
“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for
which I send it.” — Isaiah 55:11
So it isn’t a science textbook or a modern-style history or a self-help guide or a motivational text. It is God’s dynamic power at work performing his redemptive activity at the deepest level of Creation — the human heart. If providing knowledge was the singular (or even primary) purpose of God’s Word, the all-knowing YHWH would be more than capable of providing an utterly unassailable (if not exhaustive) tome of information. If He wanted to give us a self-help guide, we’d have the greatest list of instructions imaginable. Motivational? A book of positive anecdotes and inspiring themes would be just the thing! Nothing scary or dark or bloody allowed!
In case you haven’t noticed, that is NOT the book we’ve got, because those aren’t the gods we’ve got.
You’ve probably caught a glimpse of some brokenness in my life. Orphan, child of a prostitute, adopted into a family scarred and cracked by racism, divorce, brutality, and bitter strife. Mix that up with my own sexual struggles and sprinkle in my tween and teen years as a Mormon, and you can imagine the bizarreness in my head.
It is a strange puzzle to me that people without a lot of brokenness in their lives, whether they were raised as Christians or apart from Jesus, really struggle to hear some of the great resonances in Scripture. I’m saying this as a way of trying to lay some foundation for discussing one of the most divisive matters in our brotherhood. I want to try and grasp what our Father in heaven is showing us about himself through the different divorce narratives and instructions.
Scripture, like Eden and Tabernacle and Torah and Temple (and Jesus, according to the Fourth Gospel and Paul’s letter to Colosse), is a gift given to reveal the heart of YHWH God. Scripture never speaks ‘objectively’ or ‘ontologically’ about any topic, even God himself. As Isaiah suggests above, Scripture exists to serve the purpose of God —
- Isa 6:3 “the whole earth is full of his glory”
- Hab 2:14 “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
- Col 1:19 “for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
It is by a particular note of grace in my life that my marriage is going strong after 10 years. Certainly I have done more than enough to wreck it. Its duration and strength is certainly not a sign of spirituality or maturity on our parts. Men and women whom Carly and I deeply respect, admire, and strive to emulate, whose spiritual wisdom and fruitful living far outruns ours, are suffering in the throes of broken covenants and shattered families, surviving as we do by the grace of God.
My next post in this series will continue to lay foundation, and the third will touch on what I believe is the first passage in the Bible to directly address divorce. Shout it out if you think you know which it is!
in HIS love,
PS – This series will be working through some of the thoughts of several people — including but not limited to Rubel Shelly, Homer Hailey, NT Wright, and Christopher JH Wright. Any wisdom you find here will probably have come from Abba, through one of these writers. If any of those names makes you think twice about continuing to participate in this conversation, I challenge you, rather, to take this opportunity to be spiritually sharpened and to help me grow in my own with-God life. May Almight God bless us as we meditate on and enact his word.