I have been increasingly moved by the reactions of First Pres-ers to this idea: the Bible is not some mish-mash of random sayings, bits of wisdom, stories of ancient characters, and beautiful poetry. The Bible is actually one cohesive story from Genesis to Revelation, from the Garden of Eden to the City of the New Jerusalem.
Tim Keller suggests that preachers today do their congregations greatest favor and benefit when they show the connections between Old Testament events and ideas with New Testament events and ideas. I can see what he means. For the most part, the Bible is a mysterious and confusing book. People let it gather dust until crisis occurs and we flip to a random passage asking God, “Speak to me!” Or, for those that recognize God has something to say, our Bible studies usually consist of going deep in one verse or chapter and rarely connect to the larger story of what God is doing from the start of time and until its consummation upon Christ’s return.
David Kim, pastor in New York and author of a great devotional I highly recommend, writes:
The Bible uniquely reveals the story of this world through the eyes of our Creator. It is this grand narrative that provides a needed and invaluable context to help us address the big questions of our lives- perennial issues of identity, purpose, and meaning. Yet, the Bible is a big book. Many who actually try to read through the entire Bible often have difficult getting through the first five books. For those that manage to go beyond those books, it’s easy to lose the bigger picture and to get lost amidst all the details of strange sounding names and places.” (Kim, Glimpses of a Greater Glory, vii)
I have loved teaching Casket Empty, and the students’ continued interest is, I believe in part, due to the focus on the greater metanarrative of God’s plan and purpose shown in Scripture. Yet, we don’t all have two years of our lives to give to such a study. Where to begin?
I suggest a 31 day devotional entitled, “Glimpses of a Greater Glory” by David Kim. You can purchase one here. It is an awesome experience. Rev. Kim provides context and explanation as to the larger story of God, and then he offers a particular text from the Bible. Each day’s devotional concludes with personal application and prayer. The 31 days move chronologically through the Bible. By the end of the 31 days, you see the bigger picture, the major themes, and the way God is moving through time offering grace, mercy, justice and forgiveness again, and again, and again.
Let me encourage you to take the 31 day plunge. Come away a better listener to sermons, a wiser head as to the work and purpose God has in the world, and a deeper soul having lived in and with God’s Word for a month. Come away recognizing the Bible as one big story with 66 pieces and thousands of accounts that bless our world like no other.
This post is part of a series of reflections on leading the inaugural class of the Gotham Fellowship as part of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando’s Center for Faith and Work.