Let us reason together

What should Christians do when they get together?  

Here’s a starter:

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. (1 Corinthians 14:26)

I will rewrite this, to reflect the current situation in many churches.

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, no-one, apart from the clergy, has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done(if there’s time) for the strengthening of the church.

If the first Church did these things (the 1 Corinthians 14:26 list, not my revision), then why don’t we? Are we selective in our Bible reading or have we just been conditioned to believe that a lot of the Bible is just not for the Church today?

The Bible is the most precious thing you could ever read. Treat it so, but never worship it, that honour is reserved solely for the Author of the Bible. Sadly, many Christians, with their constant analysis and arguing over the words of God, have in fact been worshipping the Bible of God more than the God of the Bible. They wallow in their own cleverness in their debates with other Christians and will fall out with each other over the smallest issues. Some would even quote Amos in their defence:

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3:3)

We all have our champions, our favourite Bible teachers who defend our doctrinal positions with skill and eloquence. They are our surrogates, our gladiators of the debating chamber. But sometimes such things can divide.

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:14-15)

Perhaps we should develop the confidence to fight our own battles, read the texts for ourselves and develop opinions based on group study. The rabbis have always considered study of God’s Word as the highest form of worship, so let us always bear that in mind as we delve into His Word.

Here’s an idea. In my first book, How the Church Lost The Way, I mentioned a type of Jewish group study, called a Beit Midrash (House of Learning). It’s like a home group format, but noisier and a tad unstructured. A traditional home group would follow the Greek model of having the pastor, minister, elder or teacher leading the meeting, perhaps linking material with the Sunday sermon, or following a thematic series.

A Beit Midrash doesn’t need to be led by someone who has prepared well, or has all the answers. It needs a facilitator, someone to move things along, but the whole point of it is for everyone to learn together. If your minister wants to join in, then he’s on the same level as everyone else and should not be allowed to dominate. The point of the Beit Midrash is the acknowledgement that sometimes we don’t have all the answers, but it will be fun to find them out together. Proceedings are disorderly, a very Jewish idea, with interruptions, silences, jokes and tangential thinking all the norm. The one thing you won’t need to do is put your hand up to speak, though you may have to deal sensitively with the situation of everyone speaking at once. The best way to try this form of group study is just suck it and see.

So, thinking Hebraically, that’s what we need to strive for if we want to go deeper into God’s Word.

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD ... (Isaiah 1:18)

Sounds like a good invitation to me.

For the next article in this series, click here.

For the previous article in this series, click here.

You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.

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