Monday, October 18, 2010

Love Over Scripture: (Lens of Love pt 2)

I wrote last week about reading the Bible through a certain lens, the lens of Love, and that if your interpretation if the scriptures leads you to exclude, hate, or mistreat your neighbor then you have misinterpreted the text.

St. Augustine said,

“So it seems that you have understood the divine Scriptures, or any part of them, in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, then you have not yet understood them.”

I would even go so far to say that Love trumps scripture.

Now if you haven’t already turned your computer off let me give an example, one that I have touched on before.

In Luke 10 Jesus tells a parable of a man, who was traveling down a path from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was severely beaten and left for dead by bandits. Along the same road came a priest and then a Levite, both of which passed by the man in need. Soon after this a Samaritan comes and takes care of the man by bandaging him up and taking him to an inn where he pays enough money to take care of him.

As I have said before, the priest and the Levite often get a bad rep for their actions in this story, but who is to say that we wouldn’t (or that we do not) do the same exact thing.

The reason I say that is because the priest and Levite were actually the ones who followed the scriptures. Throughout the Torah there are numerous laws forbidding contact with a dead body or touching blood or any other secretion from some else’s body. So when the priest and the Levite come to the bloody body, which probably seemed dead, lying on the side of the road, they had a tough choice. They could either act out of love and help the man (and in doing so, would become unclean) or they could follow the scriptures, remain clean, and be able to partake in the sacred meal with their family when they returned home.

Of course they choose the scriptures as any good religious, clergy would do. And we know that once the story was finished Jesus asked the “expert in the scriptures” which man had done the right thing, and of course the answer was “the one (Samaritan) who had mercy on him (the bloody guy). You could say that the man who ignored the scriptures and acted out of love was the man who was justified in his actions.

So are the scriptures all we need? And is there ever a time when the idea of, “Well…what does the Bible say?” just doesn’t cut it? I’ll write more about this topic throughout the week. I am interested in reading your ideas.


JustinGaynor said...

Love definitely trumps scripture.

God is Love and the only thing special about scripture is that the sovereign God has elected to exercise His authority through it. The same can be said of His people, albeit in different, but complimentary ways.

To not acknowledge that is to make scripture an much an idle as the temple was or any other man made thing. Do that too much and He'd probably set fire to it Himself. Paul never gave scripture that much emphasis, he acknowledged that scripture was useful, that God breathes life through it. But it never had the importance placed on it that it has had since the reformation...tell people they can't have something and it becomes the most important thing ever...especially if its being used to control and manipulate, everyone wants to be on the right side of that equation. We're sinful.

As it stands though, the Way of Life Jesus calls us to will always find its guiding doctrines (common life)centered and grounded in the life and teachings of Jesus...which are recorded for us (thank God)in the Holy Scriptures from Gen to be read, understood and applied in the Power of the Holy Spirit, within a community, listening to one another, weighing it carefully,keeping what is good, and holy that all may be instructed, encouraged and built up in obedient, sacrificial love.

Also, I think it's important not to lump the whole of scripture up with the law in ordinances. And if we are to reflect on the law in ordinances, to pray God reveal the Spirit behind them...rather than the letter. Then perhaps we will be using the law lawfully, God willing.

melissa said...

i love this post. people (including myself at some point i'm sure) often use the bible as a weapon instead of a wonderful tool to encourage, uplift and direct others towards a loving relationship with jesus. i agree with justin...god is in choosing love i am choosing to honor god....just like the samaritan.