I am fond of short clever sayings. I still remember the Burma shave ads that lined the highway. They were a series of signs that made a rhyme to advertise brush-less shaving cream. Short rhymes that told a story. When I was little, as we drove down the highway, it was entertaining to read, and wait for the next part of the Burma shave rhyme. As I got older the ads got less frequent. Sometimes there were missing signs. Then it was great to have Dad or Mom or a grandparent to fill in the missing part of the rhyme.
When I read the Bible, I am struck by the way God communicates his truth. There are Bible passages that communicate great hope and wisdom in a few words. There are Bible verses that encourage. There are verses that confront us with the reality of our sin. The more I read the Bible the more I celebrate the wisdom of God and his great love for his foremost visible creatures, you and me.
There are Bible passages that are misquoted and misused. This is especially true for those who use the Bible to market a theology of glory. The theology of glory ignores and denies the reality and consequence of sin. The theology of glory denies the reality of pain and suffering. It ignores the passages that describe the fact that our life in Christ puts us in opposition to the world. The Bible teaches a theology of the cross. We have confidence of our salvation even in times of great suffering. In our suffering and pain, we look to the cross of Christ. When we face persecution, we look to the cross of Christ. Jesus suffered to destroy the power of death. He wins for us the victory.
One of my favorite readings in the Bible is the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk is writing to the people of Israel after they have been conquered, first by the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians. He starts his prophecy saying: "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save?" (Habakkuk 1:2) I believe this is very relatable to most of us. We cry to God. "How long must we face adversity".
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19
Most people will read this and see doom and gloom. The harvest has failed. The livestock has died, the things of this world are lacking. A theology based on prosperity would lead you to despair. Yet, I see Habakkuk pronouncing hope and salvation. Everything in this world can be stripped away and salvation is sure. God is our strength. Instead of trusting in the things of this world, we rely on the promises of God. He will strengthen us, so we can tread in high places. Even in the worst times we can rejoice in the God of our salvation. We are victorious in Christ. Nothing in this world can separate us from the love of God. God demonstrates his great love for us in the cross. Jesus died for us.
Sometimes when people tell me something they read in the Bible, I think of the Burma shave signs. When one of the signs is missing the rhyme does not make sense. Of course, without knowing the history of brush-less shaving cream, the Burma Shave ads make no sense at all. I celebrate there are scholars who study history and the whole counsel of God. It is like having Dad, Mom or a grandparent to fill in the blanks and to explain the context. You are the beloved children of God. Rejoice!
Sometimes when people tell me something the read in the Bible, I think of the Burma shave signs. When one of the signs is missing, the rhyme does not make sense. Of course, without knowing the history of brush-less shaving cream, the Burma Shave ads make no sense at all. I celebrate there are scholars who study history and the whole counsel of God. It is like having Dad, Mom or a grandparent to fill in the blanks and to explain the context. You are the beloved children of God. Rejoice!