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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Living the Story

And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings........
Acts 17:26 

Much has been made lately, in certain circles, of the Story of Scripture; the Story of Israel is contained between the 'book-ends' of our English Bibles, the books of Genesis & Revelation. Though it is the Story of one peculiar & particular people, the relationships that they entertained & enjoyed, both with their God & with the nations around them & the mistakes they made, leading to the ultimate downfall of all but a remnant, it is primarily the Story of how the Creator of all entered the Realm of His Creation, bringing together the seen & unseen realms, instituting the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

The tendency among most Christians is to read this Story & take it to extremes: on one end of the spectrum, we have those who, to whatever extend, understand everything as written directly to & about us, living in the 21st century & then those who believe that it was all written to & about those living in the first century & previously. The latter group, although this does not apply to all of the latter group, often take their belief to the extreme, right or left & say that, since it is written to & about a people long ago & far away, it is not applicable to us today. The former group, to whatever extent, might tell you that it's all about us, although these usually apply the principles of the Law in an almost haphazard, even willy-nilly sort of way. 

The question of 'how should we then live?' is one that should be foremost in every Christian's mind & the answer to this question, though there is but One true answer, depends largely on one's interpretation of the Story! If one believes & takes to heart all of the principles that Jesus taught, realizing that the Law & the Prophets served simply to point to the Revelation of the Son of God, then that person will do his or her best to live according to the teachings of Jesus, living & loving as He did. On the other hand, if one believes that Scripture is written to & about them, then if they act according to that belief, they will have much unnecessary trouble in this world!

Much if not all of the troubles that human beings face in this world on a daily basis have their foundation in religion! James, in his letter to the Church ( James 1:27 & 28 ), describes true ( 'pure and undefiled' ) religion; against this sort of religion, nothing can be said, but it is 'the religion of man' of which we speak here & which many decry; this is also known as 'organized religion'. The majority of organized religions, in particular, Christianity, also known as the Institutional Church, because of their individualistic & anachronistic understanding of the Story & the Nature of it's Tender, tend to take the the Law & apply it in a way that it was never intended for, leading to many unintended but still irresponsible acts of violence!

 The Christian life, when lived consistently, is one that perfectly fulfills the Creator's mandate; this is what Jesus meant when He said to 'love your neighbor as yourself' ( Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19 ) & 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' ( Luke 6:31 ). The heart of the problem lies, again, in how one interprets these two commands & in essence, the whole Story itself; 'who is my neighbor?', is the question that comes to mind first. Depending on ones understanding of what constitutes a 'neighbor', one might find themselves in the arms of love, or on the wrong end of a gun! Along the same lines, much of the 'trials & tribulations' that Christendom has experienced during the past millenia or so is due to the fact that they have reaped what they've sown!

How then does one Live the Story; how should we make application of the principles taught in the Scriptures, both in the Greek & the Hebrew? Well, the first thing we need to understand is that it IS One Story! The Bible as we know the Scriptures IS a History of Israel according to the flesh, but it also tells the Story of the Creator God's covenant faithfulness. It is because of His Covenant Faithfulness that the Story continues; it did not End, though they met their End & perished in it. By understanding that our Story is a continuation, a Fulfillment really, of the Story of Israel, we may then live that Story to the fullest, realizing that we are a peculiar people, One that, as 'a nation of priests', are put on this earth to minister the Creator's love to His Creation!

Charles Haddon Shank

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