Friday, November 20, 2009


Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending one of Princeton Seminary's Certification Retreat and Forum in Hendersonville, NC (Kanuga Retreat Center). This was an amazing week filled with humbling insight and confirmation concerning that which I had been struggling with.
In Jeremiah 29 we read of God's people struggling with a situation...they were stuck. To be more precise: they were exiled into captivity and under Babylonian control. Ironically, this year's theme for the youth group is Jeremiah 29:11-13 and it's usually used like a 'Hallmark' greeting card...sounds good, so we use it, but in it's's something hard to swallow.
Did you know that there are two ways to read the Bible? Traditionally it's either: literally or allegorically. However, I will refer to Francis Chan's definition: Exegesis is an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, starting with the text and moving out form there. Eisegesis imports a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text.
I think we have a nasty tendency to 'import' our own 'preconceived' meaning into the scripture we read. While that's not exactly a bad thing, I do think it's a major contributor to twisted misinterpretations of what it was truly meant to say to us. Personally, I think it's best if we take a look at scripture from both perspectives-after reading a particular text or portion of scripture (if you don't know the reason for it or don't understand it, do some research-get yourself a Study Bible) and then ask yourself questions like: 'what struck me about what I just read?' or 'what does it have to do with me?' or 'what is it that God is trying to reveal to me through His Word?'
See, you and I get stuck and we tend to look for answers in all the wrong places from all the wrong people. Pride tends to get in the way of truth and sometimes we don't like what we hear. Which really leaves us with two options: pursue the truth or give up because it's too complicated, time consuming, or requires too much sacrifice.
If you were to read on in chapter 29 you'd find out that God warns the Israelites not to listen to or buy into 'false hope'. He tells them to get used to their situation because it's where they need to be (for 70 years) for all their short comings (sins). When we sin...we find ourselves in a 'stuck' situation. Until we either come clean and seek forgiveness or give up we won't find peace or happiness. And it won't be because God's denies us, but because we deny ourselves of the freedom He offers.
Again, there are two ways to read scripture, but there's two ways to 'read' a situation's my fault or it's someone else. We either take responsibility or we place blame upon those who we deem are at fault for our own shortcomings.
So the question becomes: are you stuck? If so, why are you stuck? And if you know that you're stuck and the reason for your stuckness...then what are you doing about it? Read carefully Jeremiah 29:11-13 because I think there's something we can all learn here-the honest truth: we have failed to follow God with our whole heart.
My challenge to you is to continue the seek Him when it's inconvienent and hard. To do what it takes to find peace and happiness. Now, it may mean making some sacrifices, but didn't God make the ultimate sacrifice? Remember, 'for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also'.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Wow! You did it again...very thought provoking. I have been trying to figure out lately how to interpret the Bible. This was very fitting to where I'm at right now, and it gave me some good ideas on where to start...thanks! :)