Lectionary Passages for April 26, 2015. Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
This morning I read that; "Bible study is too important to leave to specialists." (Millard Lind, Ezekiel, Believers Church Bible Commentary.)
That sentiment jumped back to mind when I read about the uneducated and ordinary men who amazed temple leaders and scholars with their clear message. No one had any words of opposition for what Peter and John had said and done, and so, they were set free instead of thrown in jail.
The scriptures have no power if they are only for scholars. They have power when ordinary people experience healing and hope and then get excited about sharing their stories so that others can join in. We need our experiences of life to help us interpret God's message, and we need to do that in the presence of others. What John and Peter were saying and doing was giving tangible evidence to claims of faith.
Where is the tangible evidence in our lives? When someone is healed, or finds an answer, or learns to hope, or experiences the love of God through others, or is supported through difficulty, when those stories are shared, faith gets exciting. It starts to be more than words on a page or "thou shalt nots."
1 John 3 is a great passage to go to when we are frustrated with words and caught up in the semantics of faith. ""This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another..." (v 23) That puts things pretty simply. There are so many things we can get to arguing about, but the most important thing is that we remain true to this core, that ordinary people act in love to each other. That isn't a love that glosses over difficulties, but tries to keep them in perspective.
Psalm 23 and the reading from John both talk about God as the good shepherd. I had a chance to help look after some sheep this winter-and I sure read those passages differently now! Sheep are dumb. They are defenseless. They are ill-equipped to find their own food and water. They need a lot of help! Without a good shepherd, they are hungry, lost, in danger, uncomfortable....When Jesus says; "I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) the question WHY? rings in my head! There is nothing on the sheep's part to merit the good care, except that the sheep are of economic benefit to the shepherd. We aren't of economic benefit to God, so the only answer left is love. Rather humbling.