On Sunday I preached what was, perhaps for some of you, an unusual sermon. For those of you who didn’t hear the sermon it was a survey of story of Scripture as a story of the restlessness of Israel, and humanity more broadly, and the offer of rest through Jesus Christ. It was prompted by the topic of “rest” in Hebrews 3-4. You can listen to it here.
If you have been at Union for any length of time (which is rare here, of course), you have probably heard me do this type of sermon a few times. I thought it might be helpful for me to explain briefly why I do this from time to time.
First, I want you to know that I don’t do it because I think many of the congregation don’t know the main storyline of Scripture. Some may not and I hope it benefits them. But I don’t really imagine that I am telling most of you something you don’t already know.
However, I do think that it is good for us to get a review every now and then. Sometimes our study of Scripture gets very fragmented. We look in detail at isolated passages for practical application or doctrinal defense and can sometimes lose the proverbial forest for the trees. A reminder of the overall storyline helps contextualize our study of specific passages.
Another goal of such a reminder is to help us remember what story it is that we are a part of. We understand ourselves and our world through stories, narratives. We are offered a variety of prepackaged story lines through which to understand our lives. I believe that Scripture offers the best comprehensive story to interpret ourselves and the world. I also believe that we need to have it repeated frequently to draw us away from the inferior stories on offer.
Finally, I do this as an aid for evangelism. The basic story line of Scripture can be told a variety of ways. Perhaps before yesterday’s sermon you had never thought of it as a story about rest. But it is a legitimate way to tell the story and a particularly relevant one for our contemporary world. The story can also be told from the angle of identity, of slavery and freedom, death and life, the presence of God in the world, etc. Knowing various ways to tell the Biblical story assists us in evangelism because we can tell the story of the gospel to people in ways that connect specifically with their need.
I have found this way of thinking about Scripture extremely helpful for my own theological and spiritual development. I hope it helps you too.