As a senior at Auburn University, I was frustrated. After beginning to take my faith seriously during my sophomore year in college, I had the core knowledge and understanding of Christianity down. The Gospels? Got it. Romans and I & II Corinthians? No problem. Galatians, Ephesians, and James? Check. Don’t get me wrong, the Gospels and these other books of the Bible are arguably the most important ones. They contain the main salvation narratives. However, I was extremely convicted and concerned that as I looked through the other two-thirds of the Bible, I had no idea what was going on. This conviction led me to make one of the best decisions of my life in taking a year to join the Nashville Fellows Program.
I want to give an analogy Scotty Smith, our Monday morning Bible overview teacher, described to us: Imagine your favorite movie, one you know backwards and forwards. Let’s say one of your friends has never watched this movie, and you desperately want them to see it. However, instead of watching the whole movie, I say we should just show them the climax and your favorite scenes. Does this sounds like a good idea to you? Of course not. There is so much in the setting and plot of the movie that sets the stage for these great scenes. Also, if we do not show them the whole movie, it might skew the way they view these other important scenes. The same goes for the Bible. If we do not know the plot and purpose of the Old Testament, we will never be able to fully comprehend and appreciate the climax of the greatest story ever, the life and death of Jesus. We cannot simply choose to only focus on our favorite books and verses without seeing how they relate to the bigger picture. EVERYTHING in scripture is meant to point us to Jesus, not just the New Testament but also The Law and the Psalms. It is meant to be read and understood as a larger narrative. As a result, we cannot follow Thomas Jefferson’s footsteps and make our own Bible which excludes anything that doesn’t appeal or seem important to us.
I will never forget Scotty explaining this example to us because it perfectly depicted how I previously approached the Bible. It is so easy for me to just focus on the Gospels and New Testament because that is where Jesus is. However, I must not become complacent. I am so thankful for the Nashville Fellows Program teaching me the importance of the Bible in its entirety. Even though I still have a long way to go, I feel like I can see the Gospel through a new lens after going through each book and seeing how it relates to this big picture narrative. Scotty, being the mastermind that he is, consistently throws out words of wisdom. I want to give you some of my favorite one liners from the year:
-We either want to give God none or a little place in our story. But In reality, we are just a small part of God’s story. I matter, but I’m not the point.
- So many of us will let God ride with us through our life but will only let him in the trunk or the back seat. We must instead let him drive.
- Grace never stops with us. We are carriers to who the Gospel comes but also carriers through whom the Gospel must run.
-The Church is not called to uniformity but it is called to unity.
-Idolatry is less about the physical things and more about the idols of our heart in which we give our love, attention, and affection more than Jesus. An idol is when a good thing become an ultimate thing.
-Good relationship is the stewardship of pain, not the absence of it.
-If what the Lord promised is true, it’s not a game changer but an everything changer.
-The Bible is a small creek shallow enough that even the weakest can cross but also a vast ocean so deep even the wisest will never understand.
-Sin is more about breaking relationship and less about breaking rules.
Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this is my prayer for you: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God." As I read this passage back in August, I immediately knew I wanted to make this passage the theme for my year as a Fellow. I want to challenge you to join with me in diving deeper into the vast ocean that is the Bible instead of being satisfied stepping over the small creek that the Gospel provides.