Two Mindsets to Hold While Reading the Gospels

24 11 2012

The Gospels are a fascinating look into the life of the Messiah, the Chosen One, who delivers us from sin and brings us back to God. Surrounded in controversy, yet filled with wonder, how can we best read these books and also inspire others to read them well?

1-The Wonder of the Person of Jesus

I think the first way we can come to the Gospels and encourage the church with the Gospels is to fall in love with the person of Jesus. These stories about him are filled with mystery and intrigue. We can simply enjoy the story and become fascinated with the person and identity of Jesus. Too many times we approach the Gospels looking to dissect them or to manipulate them to our own presuppositions. Rather than constantly running to the debate of fine details, there is much joy to be found when we are caught up in the wonder of this man who came and changed history. This man who came in obscurity (a poor peasant in outer villages) and sought obscurity (telling many not to talk about him), then actively injected himself into hostile environments (rebuking religious leaders) leading to his violent death, but his death was not the end. This story, filled with so many layers of marvel, can bring us to our knees in awe. Watching this kind of example in the leadership will draw people to the message of these Gospel writings. It will also turn some people off, but we can bring people to a crossroad of decision as Jesus did. This can move people from ignorance of these stories to a desire to hear them and engage with them.

2-Facing the Challenges Head-On

From Wikipedia

A lot of people are turned off when they are confused or feel threatened. I think it’s important to be engaged with the confusion. Those who heard Jesus say, “drink my blood and eat my flesh,” (John 6) left him admitting what he said was hard. Those closest to Jesus stayed with him saying, “you have the words of life.” So no matter how well we understand the person of Jesus or the words of Jesus, rather than rejecting him, we can stick with him no matter what, knowing the treasure he is. As leaders, we avoid being turned off by Jesus. This means we humbly come into the light personally unlike many of the religious leaders. We model for the congregation what following Jesus looks like. It means we don’t always get our reading of the Gospels right, but when we know we’re wrong, we admit it and we cling to Jesus with all we’ve got. Many will have objections to what they read in the Gospels. While maintaining an attitude of humility, we also can maintain a solid approach to interpretation. We can sift through the challenging objections and do the work well without being overly defensive or oppositional. When people have questions, we can give our best to answer them with well thought out answers. Rather than bristling against different opinions, we can hold to a standard of civil discourse in the middle of disagreements.
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