About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Who We Are Determines What We Believe


I admit it.  I tend to treat our plants as if they are human.  I think of our backyard family of birds, squirrels, and Chippie the chipmunk as if they are our pets.  Even though I can hardly see them, I hear them play, fight, forage for food, and bathe in our birdbaths.  My wife Dianne provides me with the play by play drama, but sometimes things get sad, as they did recently.  Chippie the chipmunk used to jump up on my lap and let me pet him as he took a peanut from my hand, but that's all over.  I'm convinced that he and two of our red squirrels have been kidnapped and possibly murdered.  I get it.  Chipmunks and squirrels destroy tomato plants, but murdering Chippie?   Okay, I'm being a bit dramatic here, but I really do miss my little friend.  This emotional response is a product of who I am, and who I am determines what I believe, what I write, and how I live, and thus the point to this article.    


Not everyone who relaxes on our back deck is enthralled with what surrounds them.  Others relax and are totally captivated by our flowers and backyard friends.  Here is my point.  Your eyes may physically see something, but who you are as a person will determine your response to what you see.  If you are a flower lover, you will see the flowers in our back yard and react with some kind of appreciation.  If you are not a flower lover, even though you physically see the flowers, they don't register in your mind sufficiently to create any outward behavioural reaction.  It is as if the flowers don't even exist.  This phenomenon is present when we attempt to interpret and understand the Bible.  Even though we read every verse in the Bible, all of what we read does not register in our minds sufficiently to create a reaction that causes us to formulate a belief system by which we live.  Who we are determines what passages will influence our lives.           


If you are a quiet gentle person, passages like Ephesians 4:2 that emphasize humility and gentleness will stimulate your mind sufficiently that it will determine your theology and your behaviour.  Then, without realizing it, you'll likely ignore passages suggesting aggression, resulting in your theology and behaviour to be Biblically unbalanced.      


If you are aggressive and forceful by nature, passages like Jesus overthrowing the tables in the temple will grab your attention sufficiently that it will determine your theology and behaviour.  Then, without realizing it, you'll probably ignore passages emphasizing humility and gentleness, resulting in your theology and behaviour to be Biblically unbalanced.


One politician recently said this.  "It is what it is."  What he meant by that, I don't know.  I say this.  "We are who we are," and by that I mean who we are determines our Biblical beliefs and how we live what we believe.  Such means of Biblical interpretation is an ever-present problem in the world of Biblical interpretation.  We should attempt, and it is difficult, to set our preferential personalities aside and let the entire Bible as one unified whole speak for itself.  This is basic to good Biblical interpretation.  To the degree, then, that we can succeed in this attempt at Biblical balance will be the degree to which we can live in a bit more relative doctrinal, and thus, relational harmony.



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