Can We Talk about the Bible? July 6, 2014

Hebrews 1:1-4                   About the Bible?                          July 6, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, Christine mentioned during a sharing time that we had a run-in with the law when we traveled to Florida back in May…and she hinted that you just might hear more about it in one of my upcoming sermons.

Well, Today is your lucky day! 🙂

So, you might remember that Christine and I drove down to Florida to meet the birth mother of our child for the first time.

We were looking forward to meeting her in person, even if it meant spending two days driving to do it.

We left after church on a Sunday and drove to South Carolina. We spent that night at a hotel, then drove all day the following Monday down to the southern edge of Florida…right around Fort Lauderdale.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good trip. We enjoyed a goodie bag that Sandy and Beth had arranged for us, and a friend had loaned us a GPS to use that came in really handy, especially in the cities we were in.

We pulled into our destination city around 7 or 7:30 on Monday night, after two full days of driving. We found our hotel and dropped off our things, then we wanted to find somewhere to eat.
By this point on our trip, we were tired of driving, we were hungry, and our minds were preoccupied with the meeting we were going to have the next day.

So we got into the car, Christine started looking at the GPS to find restaurants that were nearby, and I started driving.

We had picked a hotel that was close to our adoption agency, so on our way, I pulled into the agency just to have a look at the building. We did a lap through the parking lot, then I pulled back out onto the main road, ready to go straight through an intersection.

Just as the light turned green, Christine, who was looking at the GPS, told me to turn right because there were a bunch of restaurants down that road.

I quickly checked the lane beside me, swung over, made the turn and we were on our way.
(We did a lot of those last minute turns in Florida). 

Within a block, a police car pulled up behind me like we were in a race with his lights flashing.
“Oh, great…just what we need…1700 miles of driving over two days, and really, now we’re getting pulled over?”

I pull over, the officer came to the window and asked for both of our licenses, which we gave him.

He gave me no reason for pulling us over. He didn’t greet me.

He was abrasive and to the point.

Then he had me get out of the car.

That’s never happened to me before.

He took me back to his car, where we stood between our vehicles while he proceeded to interrogate me while his partner ran checks on our licenses.

He wanted to know what we were doing in Florida, and where we were going.

I still had no idea what I had done wrong.

I explained about our adoption, and how we were there to meet the birthmother the next day.

“That’s a long way to drive for a lunch” was all he said. (I should have said “don’t I know it!?)

I put my hands in my pockets…that’s something I tend to do without thinking about it.

He told me to remove my hands from my pockets since he didn’t know what I had in them.

By this point I was pretty sure he had mistaken me for someone else.

His questions turned a little less polite…did I have anything illegal in the car?

Now I was pretty sure he thought I was someone else, but it still sounded like such a strange question that I hesitated before I answered…I wanted to be sure he was really asking what I thought he was asking.

Was I sure I don’t have anything illegal in the car? he wanted to know.

Yes, I was sure.

Had I ever been arrested before? he asked.

Wait a minute…arrested before?

That’s when I just got a little bit mad. No! I’ve never been arrested. No! I don’t have anything illegal in the car!

Would I mind if he’d take a look?

At that point I made a move to open the trunk and the doors and let this guy search the car.

I just wanted to get on with my evening.

He called me back and told me he didn’t want to search it yet…then he told me to wait while he went and got Christine out of the car, took her to the other end, and made sure our stories lined up.

Eventually, he was satisfied that our stories were legitimate and that we had nothing to hide.

It took some work, but I was finally able to get him to explain why he pulled us over.

Apparently the hotel we had chosen didn’t have the best reputation (though we thought it was fine).

But in his mind, he saw us pull out of a seedy hotel, then he saw us pull into an empty parking lot and take a slow loop through it in an older model car from out of state.

When I made a last-minute lane change and turned right, he thought I had seen him, and he thought I was trying to get away.

Eventually he let us go.

I even got him to give us a restaurant recommendation even though by the time we finally got there we weren’t really in the mood to eat anymore.

By the end of the encounter, we felt harassed and unwelcome, and the temptation for me was to judge the whole state by our encounter with one police officer who was having an off night.

Contrast that with our experience the next day, when we drove again to a restaurant, where we were going to meet the birth mother of our child for lunch.

It’s a unique experience…we were about to meet someone for the first time, but she was already a pretty important part of our family.

We had never met her, but we had already made a big commitment to her, and she to us.

We went into that meeting…curious.

We were curious about what she looked like. We were curious about the color of her eyes, how she would talk, what mannerisms she had.

We were curious about what food she would order, and whether it would be an awkward and difficult conversation, or if it would be easy.

Do you get what I’m saying?

We wanted her to like us…and we wanted to like her…but regardless of any of that, we had already made this life-changing commitment to her, and she to us.

The commitment came first.

Sure, there were awkward moments, times when the conversation lagged…but we were looking for what we had in common. We weren’t interrogating her…we were getting to know her, and we were building a relationship.

So really, I’ve described two situations for you this morning as we talk about how we read the Bible.

In the first, suspicion and judgment were the foundation.

The police officer needed to judge whether or not we were up to no good.

And I can appreciate (now) him playing his role. I can understand why he may have arrived at the conclusions that he did, given what he saw in our behavior, and some of the things I’m sure he’s seen in his job. We were strangers who had no commitments to each other…and so he treated us like suspects.

However, in the second example, there was a commitment there that came prior to the encounter.

Do you see the difference?

You approach someone completely differently when you’ve already made a commitment to them.
It doesn’t mean we agree on everything. It doesn’t mean we’re supportive of everything they do, or that they have a blank check on our trust.

But it does mean we treat them like the family that they are, because I believe commitment has more to do with relationships than emotions ever will.

OK…so what’s this got to do with how we read the Bible?

Look.

I’ll be the first to say I think we need to interrogate our beliefs from time to time.

But when it comes to people, especially when it comes to the church…we’ve all made a commitment to each other that comes first.

We’ve already made the biggest commitment that can be made to other people when we join the family of God…and therefore we should approach each other in a much different way, with a certain humility, a measure of grace, and an eagerness to build the relationship.

See, strong relationships can withstand interrogations.

Strong relationships kind of ‘expect’ to bear the weight of mutual care.

They’re not one-sided, and the focus is more on knowing the other, rather than simply being known for what you believe or stand for.

The series that we’re beginning this week is an invitation to a conversation.
(I can’t remember what I said here to close). 🙂

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