What is heavy on my mind this week is Christian Faith formation and Biblical literacy. In general, both aspects are suffering greatly in our culture. Two reasons especially stand out. We are too distracted by entertainments. And second, given an overly sentimental approach to the Faith, we end up being lazy, undisciplined followers of our Lord.
We are vulnerable to the many assaults of the enemy when we are ill equipped to recognize falsehood, and the half-truths spewed by the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. It takes time and effort to have a well-formed Biblical mindset. Mining Scriptures for little tidbits here and there, in preaching this is called “proof texting”, is not a good way to have our minds formed. Rather, it is a way to pick and choose ammunition to bolster ideas we already have.
It takes time and effort to read the Bible comprehensively. Sometimes there is an initial excitement to do so, but usually early on it can be frustrating and painstaking. Like a lot of things worthwhile, it may take some while of dogged determination until we develop a taste for beauty and truth, and have a sense of reward accompanying the effort.
Contrary to what some might say, you need help from Pastors, from mature Christians, and from the Christian Tradition with its doctors and creeds. They can help you with the overall storyline or narrative of the Bible as a whole. For instance, if the Bible were a play, there would be at least Five Acts. Act one would involve God’s good creation. Act two would involve the good creation being tarnished by sinful rebellion. Act three would involve God’s selection of a people, Israel to bring about the redemption of His creation. Act four would be Jesus fulfilling Israel’s mission. And Act five would be Christ carrying on His work through the Church until the end of the age.
Expect advice in the weeks ahead for being formed in God’s Word.
Since You Asked…
What does the Pastor’s Stole signify? (the stole is the colored strip of cloth that loops around the back of the neck and hangs from both shoulders)
The stole represents a yoke such as would be used to link and employ an ox with a plow or cart. When a work animal is yoked to a task, that animal comes under the rule and guidance of its master. As Christians we are to be yoked to Christ (cf. Mt. 11:28-30). We are to fear, love, serve, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. The Pastor’s stole is therefore not only a sign of ordination in the Lutheran Church, but it visibly reminds the whole congregation of our servant hood to Christ.