Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A 2017 Goal

I don't do New Year resolutions. If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing the moment you think it. It's also worth doing if you miss a day. I mean, if I miss a meal, I don't give up eating. Not that I have a lot of experience with missing meals, but the theory is sound. Giving up a good thing because of one failure is the worse failure.

I'm an Old Testament Christian. (Is that possible? Hmm.) I know the OT better than the NT. I prefer reading the OT to the NT. Maybe it's the narrative style. Maybe it's the violence. Maybe it's the do right or get stoned to death clarity that appeals to my judgmental nature. I don't know. I just know I don't spend that much time in the New Testament in general.

This is my year to change that. I have shelved my chronological NIV Bible and pulled out the new Holman Christian Standard Version I bought to match the new pastor's readings. I normally read from the New American Standard Version I used in college, but, hey, I'm willing to branch out. Since I don't read Hebrew or Greek, it's OK to see how different translators work with different words.

One of the things I'm doing is reading the books as books, and not verses. I ignore chapter breaks and sub-groups, and look for trains of thought. I'm applying some of my knowledge of book writing to asking why certain things were written in certain orders. Sorry, college professors. Only took me 25 years to want to do this on my own.

I'm starting by reading the books with the same authors in order. So, Matthew (based on Peter's account) followed by 1 and 2 Peter. I skipped Mark, which is historically based on Matthew's account of Peter's account, but I have all year, so no worries.

I've been reading a chronological Bible that cuts and pastes books together "in order." I warned My Dear Friend if she used one, not to take it as gospel. Get it? Don't take the Bible as gospel? But you really can't. The editors could be wrong and bits can get left out. It can be annoying to read all the books as they are, especially the ones that tend to overlap, but God preserved them for a reason, so it's worth the effort.

I'd forgotten a lot about how the gospels read. Where they start and stop. Where the focus is for each author. The same parts and the different parts. My goal in this study is to get to know Jesus better. He's the one part of the trinity that puzzles me, but he's the part I'm supposed to relate to best, because he's the part that became human.

Did you hear the story about the farmer who saw a flock of wild geese land in his field during a terrible winter storm? Wanting to help them, he tried to drive them into his barn where they could be safe, but they ran from him. Then he brought out his own geese and the wild ones followed them to safety in the barn.

It's a modern parable. Jesus became human because I have a better chance of understanding and following a human example than I do an invisible, all-powerful example (even though they're the same God, but that's another post). Maybe I'm a goose for trying, but if he went to all the trouble to get here, the least I can do is try to understand what he was doing. That's really what the New Testament is about. Why he came, what he did, and how we're supposed to respond.

Keep the faith.

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