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Getting the Story Right

November 25, 2012

One thing that is necessary when reading the Bible is getting the context right. There is an old saying that goes “a text out of context is a pretext,” meaning that many people build their doctrine first, then go to the scripture to prove it. Theologians call this “eisogesis,”(eye-so-gee-sis),  from the Greek.

The problem  that we  all do a little eisogesis and argue with one another over our varied opinions. Years ago, two of the young men in our church frequently did a funny skit. They pretended to be two blind men that Jesus had caused to see. The first told how Jesus had touched his eyes and made him see. Then the second one told how Jesus had made mud and put it on his eyes and told him to go wash it off.

The first one immediately objected that Jesus didn’t put any mud on people’s eyes to make them see. He seemed offended at the thought. The second insisted that if Jesus made you to see, you had to have mud placed on your eyes. No mud, no healing. In a moment or two, they were at each others choking one another. It was all done with an exaggeration of  voice and movement that made the whole thing hilarious.

But the point of the skit, however, is really serious. You can’t use your experience as a guide, a template, as to how God will move next. For while we know that he will do nothing that is contrary to His word, He will bring it to pass in a way that is best suited to the person or people he chooses to bless, both in the perfect time and perfect circumstances.

This does not always make us happy while living in the moment, but sometimes, in retrospect, we can see that it was the better choice. Often, however, we are waiting  for an explanation that will only come when we go to be with Christ.

Our lives are also like a book. We are called by Paul “living letters” seen and read by all men. We can also do eisogesis on our own stories, our own letters. We can take some credit for the grace that God has put in our lives, to imagine that we were uniquely qualified for something that God has done in our lives and so dry up the well of grace which we so desperately need. We can make the blessing about ourselves. We can slip into pride, making ourselves and our analysis of our lives foremost, imagining that we have exceeded how far we have actually come.

It is a trap. We need to ask God to tell us the story of our lives. Autobiography is often self-promoting, even when we are telling ourselves of our own unworthiness. We need to ask God to tell us our stories., to be our biographer. His story of each one of us is more true than our own and will be far more encouraging than our own, if we have given our lives to Christ.


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