Tag Archives: Bible

it is not what you think

“If you read the Bible, it will mess with your theology.”
Pastor Bill Lepley,
Grabill Missionary Church
September 28, 2008

That showed up early in the sermon last Sunday. Hope and I looked at each other. Hope and Nancy and I all wrote it down.

Theology is, most simply,  the study of God. We all have a theology, an understanding of God, or at least of god.. We’re formed this understanding through study and conversation and life. We’ve arrived at it through good and lousy experiences, through odd people, through responses to and reactions against.

I want to narrow the discussion for a bit. If our theology talks at all about the God that is identified in the Bible, then we have arrived at several conclusions in our theology. We may say that we don’t believe in that God. We may say that we believe that God to be a certain way (loving, violent, distant, personal, arbitrary, confusing). We may say that we believe completely in that God.

Whatever our theology, it is likely that reading the Bible will be remarkably disruptive. Many of us have sampled, and form our conclusions on the sampling. Many of us have heard things second hand. Many of us have read as if a list of rules or boring essay.

But what if it is actually a collection of love letters? What if it is actually a collection of stories? What if it is actually a Story still being written?

What if…I actually read it?


looking back – 4 things (part 1)

looking back

This post was first published February 12, 2007)

The leadership of our church started talking about what we value. In a couple of conversations, we developed two lists of core values, with a lot of overlap. And then as we met, we started talking about what we want to be known for, about what four things we want people to know about us, about what we would say in 15 seconds about our church.

It was a great exercise, because we have a bunch of people who really care about church NOT being church or playing church. We want to be, well, “a Biblically-based, caring community, worshiping God and reaching people for Christ.”

In this statement are actually FIVE things, but that’s okay.

First, we want to be a community. There are many things that a church could be: family, club, party, team, association, therapy group. What we are saying is that we pick community. We want to be about relationships that matter, about people coming and going but desiring to put down roots, about interdependence, about different ages and skills and abilities and interests but something in common. We want to be.

Second (and last for this post), we want to be Biblically-based.

That has the potential to be scary. The Bible gets used in ways it was never intended and therein is great pain. However, what would happen if we looked at it, not as a book of lists or rules or strange names, but as a love letter.

What if God really exists and really cares about people like a groom cares about a bride? And what if the groom is a King and the bride is an abused slave girl? What if that groom wrote a bunch of letters to that bride, in the middle of her slavery, telling her that he loved her, saying what life in the court is like, telling her how to live in the courts of the King. What if he explained what happens to the people who are holding her in slavery? What if he told the stories of what love means. What if he wrote about his own love for her which caused him to give up his royal position and live in exile and die for her.

Would that slave girl look at those letters as rules or as expressions of love? Would she see a life more restrictive or a hope of freedom. Would she look in them for ways to restrict, or would she be reading them and saying to other slaves, “the prince is coming, he really does love me, he somehow smuggled food to me, he wants me.”

And what would a community that was built around love letters from the king look like?


“Looking Back” is an opportunity to republish posts which have mattered to me. They may matter to you, too.