In college I studied literary theory and learned how to read texts through various lenses. Each lens had the power to change the story’s themes and the relationships between characters. While I no longer use literary theory when I read novels, I’ve noticed that I do a version of this when I read Scripture: I project.
As I read the Gospel (Mark 4:1-20) I read Jesus’ words through a variety of lenses, or really, moods. Take for example Jesus’ comment in Mark 4:13: “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?”
Is it sassy Jesus? Is it exasperated Jesus? Is it puzzled Jesus? Or maybe deeply concerned Jesus?
I wonder, is Jesus here feeling the same way I feel when I have to explain to the kids again what they need to do before school? “Do you not understand you have to brush your teeth AND your hair every day? Then how will you understand you also need clean socks every day, too?”
This way of reading Scripture, I feel, reveals my inclination to shape God after myself instead of shaping myself after God. When the voice of the Lord sounds a bit too much like a white, middle class, American housewife in the twenty-first century, I know I need to stay with the passage a bit longer and invite the Holy Spirit in once again.
It’s not just that Jesus needs to sound like a brown, middle-eastern Jewish man in the first century, He also should sound like Almighty God Who is Love and Mercy. Are you conforming God after you or giving Him your heart to shape?Are you conforming God after you or giving Him your heart to shape? // @bonnieengstrom Click To Tweet