A Field Guide To A Revolution

Posted: August 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

Do you read your Bible? If polls are correct then most of you don’t.

Why?

The Bible strikes even those raised in the church as (1) boring or (2) oppressive or both.  Some see it as less useful than the Holy Book of Armaments and some see it as instruction for those who only want to lob Holy Hand Grenades.
 
I used to think the same thing even after I became a Christian and entered seminary.

Then I discovered Narrative theology, which approaches the Bible as a grand story, instead of a collection of proof texts. 

Narrative theology is informed by teaching and by reflection on the story by a community rather than by individual during their “quiet times.”
 
Such an approach was a revelation to me but still seemed incomplete.

Years later, I was viewing a series of DVDs produced by Ray Vander Laan’s ministries and discovered the following:

*First century Jews viewed the Old Testament as a book that breathed life.  Rabbis referred to it as “the way, the truth and the life.”  It was viewed with such awe and reverential joy that when scrolls were removed from their cases to be read at worship, the attendant rabbi and the people danced as it was lead to the stage.
  
*Bet Sefer: At age 6 all Jewish boys went off to school to memorize the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
 
*Bet Talmud: At age 11 the best students from Bet Sefer were chosen to memorize the rest of the Old Testament. 
 
*Talmudine: At age 14 the best of the best could sit at the feet of a rabbi to apply to be his “disciple.”  This would involve an intense Q&A session.
 
-To be taken as a disciple of a rabbi was considered the greatest honor a Jew could achieve. 
 
-The disciples would take their master’s “yoke upon themselves” and follow the rabbi everywhere he went.  The idea was to become like the rabbi in every way.   In fact, first century Jews would say, “Follow a rabbi, drink in his words, and be covered in the dust of his feet.”  A disciple became covered in the dust of his rabbi’s feet by following him closely.

Now back to it, Matthew 28:16-20 reads,

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As Matt Chandler notes, Jesus commands us to make disciples not “converts.”  He wants men and women who follow him so closely that they are covered in his dust. 

The Bible presents a grand story of redemption but also one to live out in order to follow our master.  Disciple should especially drink in the Gospels as they present the life and death of Jesus as the model for our own lives here and now.  Taken as such, the Bible is not just a collection of things to memorize and affirm but is a field guide to a revolution. 
 
So open your Bibles, take the words and actions of Jesus seriously and may we all be covered in the dust of our rabbi.

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