Friday, June 21, 2013

Guest post by Michael Kelley:

Sometimes it seems like God could have made the Christian life less complicated, doesn’t it? Like, for example, if the Bible was a “magical” book where you could go to it on any given occasion, open it up, and it would tell you something incredibly specific about your life:

“Yes, you should take her on an ice cream date.”
“No, you should not go to that college.”
“For sure, you should take that job in another city.”

But it doesn’t work like that. Similarly, I’ve wondered why the Lord chose for there to be four gospels in the Bible rather than just one. Tons of ink has been spilled over bringing these for accounts together, reconciling the different timelines, and discovering the harmony that exists in them. Despite that good work, the question remains: Wouldn’t it have been simpler if there was just one? Just one account, laid out in a systemic and organized way, that recorded everything? And while I’m not trying in this post to reinvent the wheel of the valuable work of others, I do want to propose that maybe one of the reasons why there are four instead of one has to do with the nature of the Bible itself.

When we say that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, it doesn’t mean that Moses or David or Matthew or John lapsed into a state of spiritual meditation and when they woke up there was ink all over their hands and a book was written. Neither does it mean that they lost control of their faculties and their hand started writing all on its own. Rather, it means that the Spirit of God worked through these writers to pen the message God intended. In other words, Scripture is truth mediated through personality. Not in spite of personality.

Luke was a doctor by profession. Likely, he had an orderly and logical mind. So when he wrote his account, he wrote is as he would have processed it. An orderly and accurate account – what’s important here is the facts. Getting them down in an accurate way. But John was different.
Most scholars say that when he started following Jesus, John was just a teenager. A youngish guy on the road with a bunch of hardened and grizzled fisherman. But what would it have been like for John to see the things he saw? A teenager, so full of life and passion and imagination? You see it in his words – a focus on the miracles of Jesus. Powerful imagery that paints a picture of the beauty of the Lord.

See it? It’s the same truth mediated through different personalities. When we come to the gospels today, they still speak to different people. Different people with different personalities. The artist? Well, they’ll likely identify with the youthful exuberance of John. The accountant? Perhaps they’ll identify with the tax collector Matthew. The businessman or woman? Maybe they gravitate to the orderly account of Luke. The beauty is in the variety. And what we have before us is the diamond of the gospel.

A diamond, which when polished, shows different sparkle and shine when viewed from different directions. And in the hands of a jeweler, it can be rotated in the middle of a crowd so that its full brilliance can be seen.

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