I absolutely love listening to Third Day. They are probably my favorite Christian rock band, and most of their songs have a message that goes a lot deeper than just what you see, or hear, on the surface. I actually got to see them in concert a few years ago and I have to say, we had church.
It's not a secret that I'm not a traditional kind of guy. I love the old hymns, but they don't speak to my soul like some of the new songs do. That's just me, and I certainly don't expect everyone to agree. Our hymns tell our theology, some of the new songs might not as much, but they tell a story.
As I was reading this morning from Isaiah, and then from Hebrews, it hit me just how negative some of our scriptures can sound to someone who has not been brought up with the "rest of the story." Isaiah is speaking hellfire and damnation on just about everyone in the last few day's readings, and Hebrews really isn't much better today. I was brought up in the faith, so I understand that there is another part of the story, but it hit me this morning, if I were to post a link to today's readings, how would those words build up someone who feels as if life is trying to tear them down?
I think that's where we come in. I don't know who it was that said, and this may be a paraphrase, "It comes to every generation the responsibility of interpreting scripture for that generation," (If you know who said that, let me know), but that's exactly what we have to do. The message never changes, God loves us enough to send God's Son for the entire world, but how we present it must. Maybe I'm just beating a dead horse, but this is what hit me as I was reading.
As a shepherd, one of the difficulties of my job is presenting scripture in a way that it speaks to as many as will hear. Maybe I'm wrong in that, I don't know, maybe all I'm really doing is getting in God's way. But nonetheless, I feel that is part of my calling. How can I do that in one hour on Sunday morning? I don't know for sure. Maybe I'm not supposed to.
Yet, as a group of Jesus followers, trying to get this God story into as many ears as we can, how are we doing? Third Day's "Consuming Fire" talks about God's love burning deep within our souls. "Yesterday was the day that I was alone now I'm in the presence of Almighty God." I know folks who need to hear that, and I bet, you do too.
It wasn't that many years ago when this ol' boy thought anything that wasn't a southern gospel quartet was junk...until I stood shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of kids at Annual Conference listening to some band from Jackson, TN, ("Adam's Apple" I think was their name) and watched how that band was connecting with those kids...then I got it. I realized that I'm not sure God really cares HOW we get God's word out, just THAT we do.
So, keep reading the scriptures. Look at the whole picture, not just one or two chapters. There are some things that might seem to put folks off, but when you step back and look with open eyes, you can see that the gist of this God story is that we know a God that is wanting so bad to let you know that your personal God story is one of love. I just love to watch the different ways that God gets the point across and kindles that consuming fire.