By this time you've read through all of 1 John, isn't that fun? This week we are going to start digging deeper!
For some of us, this week may stretch and alter our view of the bible tremendously. Our souls were made by him and for him, even the earth will rejoice at his name. Studying the Bible with the right purpose invites my soul to worship the way I was created to worship (Wilkin, 47).
So let's begin.
The Bible is a book about God.
The bible is a book about God...duh. But no really...think on that, pray on that, has that been your mindset? Or has your mindset been "The bible is a book by God for me"? Really think about the difference in those two outlooks.
We read our kids the Jesus Storybook Bible and reading it to our kids was probably one of the first times that I was confronted with the me-centered mindset I held. The beginning of the Jesus Storybook Bible starts this way....
"You see, the best thing about this Story is- it's true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name" (Lloyd-Jones, 17).
The bible is not about us.
At first, this shift in mindset might feel scary because we like thinking that the purpose of the Bible was so God could write us a love letter, a road map to life. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy to think that everything in the bible is for us or about us. From our flawed thinking and point of view it would seem selfish and conceited for God to write a book about himself for his own glory. But it only seems that way because we aren't worthy of such glory, so to put ourselves in his shoes doesn't work. God in his power, sovereignty, holiness, and love does have the right to call glory to himself. God is the only one deserving of worship now and forever. And it is because the Bible is centered on the one true and holy God of all creation that we can lean on and live by the Bible’s teaching.
The Bible is one Big Story. It tells ONE story using many stories (this is called metanarrative) from many authors. The Big Story of the Bible follows this storyline: creation, fall, redemption, restoration. The themes of this Big Story are demonstrated in the stories we read all throughout the bible in order to point us to God, to who he is and what he has done for us through Jesus for his own glory.
I love this quote from Women of the Word. Wilkin writes, "We ask [the Bible] to tell us about ourselves, and all the while it is telling us about “I AM." We think that if it would just tell us who we are and what we should do, then our insecurities, fears, and doubts would vanish. But our insecurities, fears, and doubts can never be banished by the knowledge of who we are. They can only be banished by the knowledge of "I AM." (Wilkin, 26).
We will use some study questions from Women of the Word (Wilkin, 111) to help us gain perspective of how 1st John plays into the metanarrative of the Bible. This week work through these questions WITHOUT a study bible first. For those of us who are perfectionists and always want to have the right answer, this is going to be hard. But this is about surrendering your perfection and humbly seeking to gain knowledge. Try to stretch yourself and answer these questions on your own. We want to shape and train our minds, not just memorize the knowledge of other theologians. Train your mind and your heart will follow (Wilkin, 31). Once you have worked through these questions on your own, then bust out a study bible and use the introduction notes as well as other commentary to help you check your answers. Don't make this exercise about right or wrong, but about humbly filling in gaps you didn't know you had. Pray that God would change any “me-centered" attitude you may have.
- Where does this book fit into the Big Story of the Bible?
- What part does it play in telling the story of creation-fall-redemption-restoration?
- How does this point to the rule and reign of God?
- Look for major themes.