02 January, 2006

Confounded by the Scriptures

I can think of 4 ways to meditate on the scriptures. 3 of them I like.

My favorite is to wrestle with something I disagree with. I started doing this about 3 months ago, and it is working well for me.

OK, so I don't actually disagree with anything God says, but I do have to settle back and wrestle a good bit with some of His statements. I am calling this little experiment Blue-Collar Meditation, because it is not mystical, and it is not scholastic.

Imagine you're a mechanic, and your personal car is making a funny noise. Off in your shop, you have hundreds of tools that you can use to fix the thing, but you're not at your shop now. You're at home, like everyone else. It's also your money, and there ain't much of it.

The usual solution is to start replacing parts until the problem goes away, but you don't do that. You think about it. You don't spend all day, every day thinking about it, but it comes back to mind 3 or 4 times every day, and each time it does you have a new thought on the subject. After a week or so, you're ready to dive in and try something. It may be that you figured it out, or that you ruled out another wrong guess, but your work is better because your brain gnawed on it for a while before just jumping in and fixing at things.

I do the same thing with these scriptures. I spend a little time with them, and let my brain gnaw at them. Pretty soon, something good floats to the top. I don't solve any of the great problems of theology, but that was never my goal. I just enjoy the process.

The underlying assumption is that God wrote these verses to tell me something about Him. God confused me so that I would seek Him. He wants to make something about Himself known through it, and if I diligently seek Him, I will find Him. The bad habit I fight is assuming that I can work out a theological question. If I let the theology stuff get into my head, I am wasting my time trying to meditate.

Here's the process:
  • Grab a verse somewhere that causes me angst.
    This is not a verse that causes everyone else angst. It has to be one that troubles me. I need to care about it.
  • Spend 3 or 4 days coming up with questions that I wish I could ask God about it.
    The key question is what this is going to open up about God Himself for me.
  • Use the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge on the verse I have chosen.
    If you have never used this tool, go there and learn about it now! It is a free-association set of cross-references for every verse in the bible. It's a pretty quirky set of references. There's no telling where it may send you.
  • Put together a list verses that seem to contradict the verse I am looking at.
    I usually know which verses contradict this one, and studying them is illuminating. All of the scripture works together, and if it doesn't look like that, I am missing something.
  • At this point, I have usually been at this verse for a couple of weeks.
    I have been thinking about this verse in the back of my mind for a while, and the juices are flowing. I have opinions of my own now, so it is finally profitable to....
  • Read my commentaries on the subject.
    I don't like to clutter my mind too early with the "set" opinions of learned divines, but I don't like to form final conclusions without some guidance, either.
  • Form final conclusions.
    Formally write down what I learned about God from this exercise. So far, it has never been "nothing"! All those questions I wrote down in the first few days should come in handy at this point.
  • Do something with them.
    No kidding. I believe it is foolish to learn about God, and do nothing with what you learned. I wrote a song with my first verse, and a skit with my second. The song I shared with the church I attend, and they are going to perform the skit in a month or two. I am on my third verse now, and am leaning toward another song, but I might come up with something original. (The other thing I am going to do is publish them here on this little blog experiment.)

I might ought to call this Blue-Collar Cogitation, but I'm not sure anyone would even know what that word means any more.


Kansas Bob said...

BCM - I like it! I think that way too many of us read and study but don't really meditate much ... mull things over and cogitate. Maybe it comes from our fast-food need to have it now (and our way) via online concordances and the like. I find that the blog-process can be a form of BCM ... many times blogging invokes a different process than other forms of communicating ... I love the thoughtful give and take that the blofworld offers.

codepoke said...

I am a long time commenter, first time blogger. I am hoping to learn a lot from this side of the website.