Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Journey's End

Wrapped the NT this morning. The whole immersion experience shaped me. I was suprisingly taken to Paul this time around. I feel kind of like Paul in some ways. I read the last half of Acts and most of Paul's epistles in the same day. It was good to do that. I recommend it if you struggle with the Pauline stuff. He really is a redeemed Pharisee in every sense of the word.

I was secretly hoping for a Revelation breakthrough with the other 65 books fresh in my mind, but nothing too profound hit me. It can still mean about ten different things depending on what you want it to mean. Maybe this is a good thing in some ways.

Without much pre-thought, here are my top ten stream of consciousness thoughts at the end of the journey:

1. I should do this every year. Next time during a sabbath and over a week when I can focus.
2. Yhwh does what he wants. That's what makes him Yhwh.
3. The main sin of humanity is idol worship. It was easier to define idol worship in antiquity than it is now. I should think on this more.
4. The "new covenant" is really a big deal. In some ways it is a total U-turn. I have a little more compassion for those who killed Jesus and see why he would say that they "know not what they do." Some of them thought they were really doing God's will.
5. The temple and the ark of the covenant bother me. Why did God want an earthly house and throne? It seems a little confusing and very religious. Maybe this is just some of my new covenant thinking trying to make sense of the old.
6. Jacob's name change to Israel - from "he deceives" to "he wrestles with God" is symbolic of every human being's journey from deceiver to wrestler and also symbolic of all of humanity's journey.
7. The Bible really has almost nothing to do with me (a Gentile) until the middle of Acts. We non-Jews were only invited in because God's chosen people seem to reject both the old and new covenant. This makes me feel very lucky and a little angry.
8. The NT has a few thru-lines going on at the same time through various eyewitness families. I am sure that theologians have names for these family lines, but I have never thought of them quite like this. The Lukan/Pauline line traces the gospel from Luke-Acts-the letters of Paul. The Johannine line from John - epistles of John - Revelation and the Petrine line from Mark - the epistles of Peter. I suppose a fourth Hebrew/Jewish line could be drawn through Matthew - Hebrews - James - Jude. In other words I got the feeling that these are three or four seperate contextualizations of the gospel in the first century that co-existed but had some differences. If you are smarter than me let me know if I am on the right track here.
9. God's people should sin less. I am a big grace guy, but I found in Jesus and all of the rest of the NT a very distinct call to holiness (seperateness). There was a general expectation to no longer be mastered by sin. I need to reflect more on this as well.
10. Holy Spirit. It is abundantly clear in Acts and most of Paul that the Holy Spirit is real, available and in control of the church. The new covenant only works in the presense of the divine. Jesus' message of Kingdom (God reigning now and to come) only works if God is truly present. When Jesus left he sent the Spirit to direct Kingdom affairs. It seems like many of us are trying to have the Kingdom without the Spirit. I'm not sure that is possible.

I could go up to 100 if I had time and thought you would keep reading. Like I said, it was a good exercise. I have read the Bible most every week of my life to prepare a lesson or for some sort of personal growth, but I have never powered through it like this. If I have inspired any of you to do the same, please share you thoughts as well.



Tim said...

A combination of things inspired me to read the gospel in one sitting...and so I attempted it with Matthew and actually accomplished it one day last week with the gospel of John.

On #10 - Really great thoughts. I'm reminded of a quote from early in the Vineyard movement of churches - it was this "the power is in His presence. Not the other way around." And of course biblically this is true - any miraculous/supernatural/God moment in the NT is because of the presence of God/Christ/Holy Spirit. For some reason though, I don't think I ever realized that...

Greg said...

i really am fascinated by number 6. meditate on this, i will.

ylmurph said...

I don't want to get too deep here, but...
this is good stuff (sorry to be so pedantic)

#9 jumped out to me (a fellow grace lover) as something you don't hear talked about too often...

anyhow, it was nice to find this blog

and I really need to stop this .... thing

moandrieu said...

Joe, I loved reading this. Much of what you said I agree with, but... I do question your statement of "not being invited in until the middle of Acts". I see the temple (that you are questioning in #5) as a bridge. It was intended as a way for the Gentiles to come to know God. The Jews were so exclusive with Yahweh, God wanted them to be invited into the Kingdom. That's part of Jesus' anger in the temple, because the Gentiles were still being excluded. Throughout the OT we see God commanding the Jews to include the nations.