Yesterday I spent time thinking about the Connexion retreat and the discussions we will have about asking good questions, first of the text we’re studying then of the group we are leading. I was reminded how asking the wrong questions of a text will lead to wrong conclusions, sometimes even bizarre conclusion.
On of the big problems (as I see it) is that we are often forced to begin with wrong questions of the text because of our overemphasis on relevance and application. Yes, I mean overemphasis. We begin with the standard, ‘what does the text say, what does it mean, how does it apply to my life’. The problem is that makes us more important in than God. Marva Dawn writes, “We can too naturally tend toward asking what the text says and means for our benefit instead of what is says about God and how its purpose is to draw us into worship…Before we ask how such an account [the Exodus] might pertain to our own lives, then, let’s be sure to examine deeply what God does and what the text reveals about God’s character.”
That brought to mind another quote by Eugene Peterson. It is from the introduction to Genesis in the Message, “First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.” Notice that application is embedded in this understanding – Peterson does connect our thoughts of God to our lives. We can’t get them right unless we put God first. So, for all our emphasis on application and living the Christian life right, we are bound to get it wrong if that becomes the primary focus of living or even of reading God’s Word.
So instead of K.I.S.S., I’m encouraging us to K.I.A.G. – Keep it about God. Doesn’t quite have the same ring, I know, but I’m not one for acronyms anyway.