Six months or so ago, I began feeling that we at Pillar need to start a journey through the Gospel of Luke. I am pretty sure that most Christians simply don’t know the Gospel, certainly not the whole Gospel story.
Many may be able to articulate some version of a canned “presentation,” but I am convinced that very few have explored and experienced the Gospel as the earliest followers did.
We began the journey in Luke on the first Sunday of Advent. This coming Sunday, February 6th, we will peer into Luke 5. Each Sunday, I make it clear that my messages are more like pastoral reflections than they are scholarly presentations.
Of course, I spend time studying, but my preparation is salted with (perhaps saturated by) contemplative, prayerful readings.
The Bible Reads Me Before I Read the Bible
This approach dates back to my years in seminary when one of my professors taught this simple maxim:
“Before you interpret the Bible, the Bible should interpret you.”
This maxim shapes much of who I have become and how I behave. When I approach the Bible, I seek Him and ask that His Word interpret me before I seek to interpret His Word.
It’s an approach to reading the scriptures that theologian Henri Nouwen calls Spiritual Reading.
Though I call it slow, contemplative, or prayerful reading, the thrust is the same.
“Spiritual reading is not only reading about spiritual people or spiritual things. It is also reading spiritually, that is, in a spiritual way! Reading in a spiritual way is reading with a desire to let God come closer to us. The purpose of spiritual reading . . . is not to master knowledge or information but to let God’s Spirit master us. Strange as it may sound, spiritual reading means to let ourselves be read by God! Spiritual reading is reading with an inner attentiveness to the movement of God’s Spirit in our outer and inner lives. With that attentiveness, we will allow God to read us and to explain to us what we are truly about.”
– Henri Nouwen
Reading for Formation > Reading for Information
I recommend this approach. But, of course, this approach is bordered by study! At the end of this post, I will list the commentaries I am using for those interested. Beyond contemplative reading and intentional study, I also recommend two other approaches:
- Read the Gospel in one sitting. If you are going to read Luke in one sitting, you will need about two and a half hours to do so. Reading the Bible in this way helps you “see” the complete picture. It’s as exhilarating as it is challenging. When I read Luke this way, I became overcome with emotion – tears of joy dipping off my cheek in the middle of a local coffee shop as I experienced Luke’s story of Christ!
- Monthly Chunks. I also like to break it down into monthly chunks. For example, Luke has twenty-four chapters. I divide that by the number of weeks in a month. This leaves me with 6 chapters per month and gives me four months to read the whole book. This deep-dive approach gives me time to reflect, study, and pray in-depth!
Pastoral Reflections Based on Luke 5:1-11
This Sunday I will offer the following reflections and begin to explore the implications this first calling has on our calling today!
- Luke highlights the development and expansion of the Jesus movement and, by extension, the development and expansion of the church in three distinct ways.
- Luke features Who Jesus is calling to follow Him.
- Jesus appears to be calling ordinary people, on an average day, who are doing average work in the world. Much like He still calls you and me today!
- Jesus offers an invitation and is responsive to people who have historical, societal, and cultural misunderstandings about who God is and how He behaves in the world.
- Jesus welcomes the broken and beaten down – ignored and overlooked in our world.
- Luke draws our attention to Why Jesus is calling who He is calling to follow Him.
- Jesus expands their vision of what’s possible and even probable in the average, everyday, ordinary warp and woof of life.
- Jesus extends their impact beyond themselves.
- Luke accentuates What they are to do and How they are to do it.
- As partners, they do it together – a fellowship (think Lord of the Rings).
- They do it with Him – in His company because His presence is with them.
Vision, Mission, Strategy – Expand and Develop 2022 at Pillar Community Church
There is, of course, much more. These are simply my reflections and observations based on my interaction with the passage this week!
This Sunday at 10:30 at Pillar Community Church, I will be diving into them. I’d love for you to join us!
For our Pillar Family, I will be using this week to begin a mini-series on the ministry’s mission, vision, and goals in 2022. I am looking forward to where we are heading and how HE will get us there!
Grace and peace,
A few of the primary commentaries and resources I am using:
- The Gospel of Luke (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) Amy-Jill Levine and Ben Witherington III.
- Luke. The NIV Application Commentary, Darrell L. Block.
- Luke for Everyone. Tom Wright
- Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, Robert Stein.