Thursday, May 26, 2011

the bible study


Now there were two women. Both went to different churches but they got together once a week to talk with each other and to discuss the things of God. The first woman was in a Bible study group that helped them learn what they were supposed to believe. They merely directed their questions to the leader of the Bible study, a pastor, and he gave every question a definite answer. They simply had to memorize what he told them and they had the solution to each of their problems. This brought them great satisfaction and a great deal of peace.

The second woman attended a Bible study in her church where the leader, also a pastor, would not give them definite answers to their questions. In fact, he hardly gave them any answers at all, but instead preferred to answer their questions with another question, which would get them thinking about why they had asked their questions in the first place. They wound up reading the Bible on their own, even praying, and they always came back to the Bible study group with more complex questions than the simple ones they’d started out with. This did not bring a great deal of peace, it brought about a great struggle within each person. Some of the members of this Bible study group left - they wanted a Bible study where they would be able to get plain yes and no answers to their questions, plus whatever additional information the pastoral leader might deem appropriate. After all, why were they paying this fellow?
Despite all this, the second woman enjoyed the Bible study, enjoyed the struggle, though it sometimes cost her sleep, though it sometimes cost her peace of mind and heart.

When the two women got together, the first woman would say: “How good our Bible study leader is, how wise, how many answers he has, he has set everything straight for me. I have the understanding I craved for all the things that happen in my life. I have found peace and truth.”

And the second woman would say: “I cannot tell you that I have answers for all the things that happen in my life. I cannot say I have peace or have all the truth. But I certainly have prayed more and read the Scriptures more since I joined this Bible study group. I feel I am wrestling with God.”

“Well,” responded the first woman, “suit yourself, but if you ask me, anyone who lacks peace in their Christian life isn’t getting enough of the teaching they need.”
So the one woman had her peace and the other woman had her struggle.

It happened that in the first woman’s church, her Bible study leader, the pastor, had an affair with another woman in the study group. It was discovered and he was fired from the church. Soon after, the first woman experienced a suicide in her family, and then her husband contracted cancer, followed by her youngest child being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. These blows, falling one after another, shattered her peace, and when she sought answers from the Scriptures, she could not find them. The answers the disgraced pastor had given her, all of which she’d memorized, seemed empty. She did not know who to turn to and there was little within her own self to rely upon, her faith had been built on her pastor’s, and her pastor’s faith had fallen. He was living with the woman he’d had the affair with. He told anyone that tried to contact him that he was sick of performing and of having to play God. He wanted nothing more to do with churches or Christians. The first woman was crushed.

The second woman also experienced a good deal of hardship at this time. Her husband was pinned under a heavy piece of metal at work. One leg was severed at the knee. He was bitter and angry. The woman’s children could not accept their father in this state, nor could they talk to him, so they stayed out increasingly, kept away from the house. She agonized about the trouble they might get into. On top of it all, her mother, with whom she was very close and in whom she confided everything, suddenly collapsed with a stroke. By the time the woman had made it to the hospital her mother had lapsed into a coma. She did not know where to turn - except to where the struggles of the Bible study had always taken her. She fell on her bed and prayed to God and poured out the pain of her heart.

Catching her by surprise, many truths she had fought and struggled with God over welled up in her to answer her cries. She knew them to be real for she had wrestled them through for herself. This was no second-hand faith God had fashioned in her. The Scriptures blazed with light. No, it was an authentic faith God had personally forged in her soul. She was able to get up off the bed with the peace she had never had before. When she learned of the plight of her friend, she went to her immediately and gave her the strong comfort she could out of the peace and faith God had worked in her own heart. And together, through the Word, through prayer, through the Spirit, and through the fire, the two women entered into life - a new and hitherto undreamed of reality between themselves and the One who was there for them.

No comments: