Misadventures in the Word

31 08 2008

[Sermon I preached August, 31, 2008 at Smith Chapel]

Title: Misadventures in the Word


I. Move from proposition to Mission

II. Admit that you do not have all the answers

III. Find your place in His story

For those of you who are into torturing yourself for fun, here’s the entire manuscript…have fun…

In 1865, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll – published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The book follows a girl who falls down a rabbit-hole and into a world full of strange occurrences and odd creatures. If you have read the story or seen any of the many film and TV adaptations of the story, you probably know that Alice’s adventures should most likely be labeled misadventures. Alice did not understand how the world through the rabbit-hole operated and often found herself feeling lost and confused. So often when we come to God’s Word we find ourselves in Alice’s shoes – lost and confused. We approach it only in the only way we know how: as simply a list of God’s rules for life and a way to Heaven.
But God gave us His Word for so much more than this. Thus our book might be titled, Misadventures in the Word. Today, I’d like to share some principles for reading and applying scripture.

Move from proposition to mission

Principle #1: Move from proposition to mission. The bible is full of propositions: Here’s what you should know. It is taking that and making it into an action that fulfills this first principle of scripture study. Move from proposition – from simply thinking about the Bible, from knowing what it says and even believing it – to mission – actually doing and being God’s Word in a lost world.

The Bible is as much practice as belief

The most often quoted mission statement in the Bible is the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.’” Less often we hear what Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:34-40: ”‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” God is focused on using you and I as His instruments of love, but our obsession with doctrine and truth has blinded us to the fact that there is a hurting world that needs us to be on task.

The Bible is as much about others as it is about me

We see from this second “mission” statement that The Bible is as much about others as it is about me. Throughout the Old Testament, we really get to see the heart of God in the books of the prophets. Over and over again, God says that his people are to take care of aliens, widows and orphans – those who cannot take care of themselves. This is a big part of God’s mission in the Bible. Look for yourself: from the giving of the law to the Psalms to the prophets to Jesus’ ministry and finally to the apostles acts and teaching. It’s everywhere. God is concerned about people in need, people who are lost, people who are hurting.

Admit that you do not have all the answers

Bible principle number one: move from proposition to mission. Principle number two: admit that you do not have all the answers. This is a tough one for those of us who have grown up in church. Admitting that I don’t know it all is probably the hardest thing in the world for me to do.

The Bible always has something to teach you

Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” We are never going to fully understand God in this life. He is above and beyond our capabilities of reasoning and thought, but so much can be learned from reading His Word. When we learn to admit that we don’t know everything about God and the Bible and life, we open ourselves up to new insights. At your first visit to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, you are called to share. What is that first statement that we always hear? Hi, my name is Jon and…? …and I am an alcoholic. It’s telling yourself and everyone else the plain truth that you don’t have it all together, that you are not ok, that you need help. The next time you pick up the Bible to read, simply start by admitting to yourself and God that you don’t know it all but that you are willing to hear and learn.

The Bible raises a lot of questions

An inevitable truth occurs when one is dedicated to learning something: questions will arise. I think that Christians have been taught for generations that any question directed toward God or His Word was blasphemy or a direct ticket to Hell. Let’s be honest. How many of us here have questions about God or His Word that we don’t yet have answers to. I know I do. Listen to this and listen carefully…God is not scared of your questions. I’m not saying that God is going to answer all of our questions. What I am saying is that we should feel free to bring our fears and lack of understanding to Him in faith that He will reward our yearning for His truth.

Find yourself in His story

Principle number one for scripture reading and study: move from proposition to mission. Principle number two: admit that you do not have all the answers. And number three… It has been said that history is “His story” – the great novel that God is writing – and each of us is a character in a long list of characters. The problem, the misadventure of our reading His Story, is that we get lost in it. We have to discover new ways of finding ourselves in the epic story of God and His love for this world. Principle number three: find yourself in His Story.

The Bible is history, narratives, genealogies, laws, poetry, and more…read it as such

The Bible is God’s Word – His inspired roadmap, instruction manual, whatever you want to call it – and I think all of us here believe that. BUT…the Bible is also the greatest single work of literature on the planet. How often do we forget that? We pick up the Word and read it like a homework assignment. We read just to finish. Never read the Bible just to finish a chapter or a book. Read the Bible to learn.

The Bible is…

A written history of God’s people

Narratives stories


Laws and doctrine

Poetry and songs






And more…

He reveals to us His faithfulness (through the narratives), His heart (through laws and doctrine), His creativity (through poetry and songs), His omniscience (through prophecies), His love for us (through the gospels), and the list goes on and on…

Read the Bible as it is written. Don’t read to finish, read to learn. God will reveal Himself to you.

The Bible is more about this life than it is about what happens after this life

When reading His story, we must also realize that God is more concerned about this life – the life that we are living now – than he is concerned about what happens after this life. You may say, “But God just wants us all to go to Heaven.” And while it may be true that God does want us all to be with Him in Heaven, take a moment to scan the Bible and see where the majority of the Scriptures is centered: helping those in need, life and life abundantly, holiness. God wants us to live in the present rather than straining to see the future. We’re missing the point of this life (not to mention missing the opportunity to serve and be Christ’s light) when we do nothing but wait on Heaven.

Enter the story

Many of you have probably heard of the wildly popular series of books The Chronicles of Narnia written by C.S. Lewis. In the first book of the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, four siblings discover a world unseen and participate in a grand story that none of them could have even dreamed of. The Pevensie children (Susan, Edmund, Lucy and Peter) walk into a seemingly ordinary wardrobe and find themselves in a land very different from their own. In the land of Narnia, they meet the lion Aslan who leads them on an adventure to save Narnia from an evil witch and in the end each of the children become kings and queens of Narnia, heroes in the great story. Isn’t that what the Bible is like? God’s Word is like the wardrobe. When we open His story, we can enter a world just beyond our own. God is asking us to step through the wardrobe and allow Jesus to lead us on a quest to save this world. Remember, God is more concerned with what happens in this life, than He is about what happens after this life. And in the end we can become heroes and have our part written in His story. Just look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. By faith Abraham…by faith Isaac…by faith Jacob…by faith Moses… And that chapter is still being written today. By faith [insert your name here]… Don’t be afraid to enter His story and allow Christ to lead you on a journey unlike any you can dream or imagine.




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