We are going through Winter’s last gasp here in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is in the 20’s and we have had a couple of inches of snow. Driving to and from work today wasn’t too bad, but I purposely left extra early so I could come home extra early and avoid the rush hour nightmares. On the way home I listened to some distressing statistics on reading in the modern public schools, which helped to point out the abject failure of our public education system.
As I work my way through these Lenten meditations, I return again and again to how dependent we are on our ability to read and to reason. If you cannot read and reason through what I am writing, it makes this entire effort useless for you.
The Judeo/Christian heritage is build on the Scriptures and when you cannot read them (or haven’t memorized them as many ancients did), you are left at the mercy of the opinions and teachings of others. When Paul, in Acts 17, goes to Berea, he has this to say about the Jews there.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Acts 17:10-11
Three things jump out.
- They had to be able to read.
- They had to have the Scriptures (here the Old Testament) available. All synagogues had Scripture scrolls, though probably many may have only had the Pentateuch (first five books: Genesis through Deuteronomy).
- They made critical judgments on the veracity of Paul’s teaching based on their reading the Scriptures and being able to reason through what he said, and compare that to the Word.
This is important because Jesus tied love and the Word together.
Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Fathers who sent Me.” John 14:22-24 (All uses of love here are agape.)
The psalmist equated love with the Word of God.
Your word is very pure;Therefore Your servant loves it. Psalm 119:140
The authority and validity of the Word is the practical root and foundation of our faith, the faith once delivered to saints. But beyond that, the whole process of reading, analyzing, and determining truth and falsehood are fundamental to the Judeo/Christian experience. Romans 10:14 talks about the importance of preaching, which finds its source in the Word.
Because so much of the Western World is biblically illiterate today, most people have few tools and even less inclination to deal with those who would twist the truth into a lie. That coupled with our natural laziness, creates a situation where truth can be turned on its head with little or no rebuttal of consequence for the common person. Witness the embraced absurdity of the claims presented in the Lost Tomb of Jesus documentary shown recently on the Discovery Channel. Despite the preponderance of evidence that contradicts the documentary assumptions, the average viewer will never learn about the house of cards the fundamental premise is built upon.
I guess we get what we deserve as a society and culture, but it is very difficult watching it unfold and realizing there is very little you can do about it. My only real solace is that God is in control and I don’t have to make things turn out right. That is his job. My job is to be loving and faithful and God will take the hindmost.
Grace and peace, dear reader, grace and peace.