Are We on the Same Page; or Do You See What I See?
ROANOKE CHURCH OF CHRIST “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN” AUGUST 1, 2021
ARE WE ON THE SAME PAGE: OR DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
In my early years I was taught that we could all see the Bible alike. That meant everyone should see it the way the folks I went to church with saw it. Of course, we didn’t say it that way because we had “chapter and verse” for everything we believed. It made for a comfortable religion but with uncomfortable results.
Even when I found that there were other Churches of Christ that were much like us, but only used one cup for communion, or didn’t have Sunday School, or, as I was to continue to discover, a whole lot of other differences, the feeling was that if they could just see the whole truth, they would agree with us. I wish I could say that type of orthodoxy has gone away, but it hasn’t. And by the way, that way of viewing the Bible is not limited to the Churches of Christ.
I actually think not seeing the Bible alike can be a good thing as long as it doesn’t pervert the message of the Bible. You’re saying, “Okay, Keith, you’re in a contradiction here.” What I mean is, as long as the Bible is not used to enslave people, take their money, promote illicit behavior, and basically all the things the believers in both the Old and New Testament were derided for doing, then honest differences are a good thing. For example, we have a constitution, The Constitution. It’s pretty obvious that we don’t all see it alike. We even have a Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution for us when we need help. Before you think I might be proposing an authoritative interpretive body for the Bible, I’m not! Big time not! My point is that even on the Supreme Court there are differences in interpreting the Constitution. That’s one reason liberals worry about conservatives being appointed to that Court, and conservatives worry from the other direction. Both believe they are right in their understanding of that important document. Both are sure that if the other side opened their eyes, they would see it as they do. It’s never going to happen, and I’m okay with that. Do you know why? Because dictators want everyone to agree with them in all matters decided by them. It makes for the most efficient form of government.
But how would we ever make any progress if someone did not disagree with the status quo? And what makes one person see things differently than the other? What if we all wanted the same make of car? What if we all wanted the same man or woman for a husband or wife? The creative balance of the world rests on differences. I think that includes, in a very important way, how we understand the Bible. Why? Because if we are believers in the Bible, how we understand it determines how we live and how we treat others.
If we take a look at the history of those who believed in the God of the Bible, we can see a progression in the way they understood who and what God was. I say “was” because understanding the nature of God is ever changing. That’s why Jesus could say, “Moses told you that, but I’m telling you this.” Do you get the idea that Moses and Jesus didn’t see things alike?
Does that mean Moses was wrong? No. Moses was dealing with issues and problems and a cultural situation different from that of Jesus. What Moses said at that time was what needed to be said to keep the people of Israel intact and unique.
As to our Constitution, when it was written, the culture, at least among the Colonies, accepted African slaves as part of the economy. Then our forefathers said, “All men are created equal.” They did not interpret that the way those who came later would. Where would we be as a nation and as a people if that former understanding had not been challenged by someone who didn’t see it the same way?
Such is true of the Bible. I know people today who say slavery can’t be condemned because it isn’t condemned in the Bible. That was said for several years. But the fight against slavery was fought the hardest by those who believed the Bible. Who saw the Bible correctly? And how would it have been if they all saw it alike, as supporting slavery? There were Christian proponents and Christian opponents to slavery and more recently, to integration. Perhaps there still are, but I hope most Christians see any discrimination as against God, even though scriptures will still be waved in support of a past understanding.
I said recently to someone, “In order to be on the same page you have to be on the same page.” Redundant? I know. But my point is, if we are not even in the same book, we can’t be on the same page, and I don’t mean the Bible. I mean in the way we think. I don’t think the way I did when I was a young adult. Why? I wish I could put my finger on it, but I can’t. Neither do I want to leave the impression that I’ve got all the answers, and everyone should see things as I do. Even the thought of that scares me. But as to how I reached this time and place in my relationship with God and Jesus, I think it was a combination of things. If I had to define it, I would say it had to do with getting involved. If you’ve been taught to shun the divorced, and you decide to get to know such a person and hear his or her story, your eyes get opened, and you find yourself on the same page in loving and understanding him or her.
If you had been taught not to play with a black or foreign child, and you did, you would make your decision about that child based not on color or ethnicity but on character. Your eyes would be opened, and you’d be on the same page. Does that mean you’d think alike and agree on everything? Of course not. But the one thing you would come to agree on is the value of the other person as a contributor to your own well-being.
What could we learn if we got to know someone who isn’t like us, on a different page and who sees things differently? Are we afraid to see with their eyes and read their story? How else will they want to see and read us?
When our presuppositions are challenged, it is unsettling. But looking back, hasn’t that been how we have grown in Christlikeness and become more like the One who ate with the outcasts?
THOSE TO SERVE IN AUGUST
Announcements: Connie Crites
Ushers: Joanne Elder
Singing: 1 & 15 Del Bolin, 8 & 22 Karen Branch, 29 Wayne Flora
Scripture:1 & 15 Debbie McRoy, 8 & 22 Alyssa Mileti
Communion: 1 & 29 Keith Wagner, 8 Del Bolin, 15 Wayne Flora, 22 Mike Branch
11-Garrett Williams Sr.
28- Holly Wagner
17-Mark & Rhonda McRoy
27-Bud & Judy McWhorter
27-Tim & Joanne Elder
31- Steve & Teryn Gaynor
CONCERNS: Joni and Alan ask for prayers for their son, Nathan, his wife, Paloma and newborn son, Jon. Judy McWhorter’s knee replacement, pray for a speedy recovery. Erma’s sister, Lorretta, is in the midst of a six-month oncology plan. Please continue to pray for Alisa Flora’s Nephew, Ethan Gentry, is now at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA., and her sister Melanie Gentry. Wayne Flora’s parents Sylvus and Martha Flora and sister Jan. Please continue to pray for Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie, who has health issues. Leena Bolin’s brother Steve’s family members/ recent diagnoses of ALS and bi-polar. Teryn Gaynor’s mother Brenda Windham has Cancer that metastasized into her colon (again) and her liver. Megan Downing’s aunt Stacey Smith will be checked monthly for a while. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time.
ALSO REMEMBER: Bonnie Beaver, Jim Hunter, Visitors Bill & Melinda Crigger, Medical Student of Del Bolin, Cory. Alan & Joni Beach, Kerry & Sula Hay, Judd Beaver, Calesta Saunders, Lebreska Whitaker, Wayne & Susan Phlegar, Angela Cavalier, Nick Hodges, Martha Albert, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jo-Ellen Griffith, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Tim Elder.