Cindy and I have been to several 3-D movies. The crowd literally shrieks when objects are thrown, water splashed, or space vessels whirl up, down, and around. It’s pretty cool. Of course, for the three-dimensional thing to work you have to put on special eyeware, which the movie theater provides at the door. If you don’t wear them, everything looks blurred and you can’t see the point. Once you put them on, however, you are part of the action and you can understand what’s happening. In some ways you become part of the story itself.
That’s true with great literature as well, especially the Bible. Now, I’m not talking about reading glasses, per se. I am thinking of the “lens” you need to have inside your head (and heart) if you really are going to become part of the action, if you are to experience what the passage or story is all about.
Take, for instance, the stories of the crowds bringing the lame, the blind, and the hungry to Jesus. In all these instances the reader is invited to really see the compassion of Jesus, to become part of the kingdom story. I love that about the Bible—entering the text, becoming part of the crowd or the one being healed for that matter—walking alongside Jesus.
Each gospel gives us hints about how to do this. Sometimes that means to remember what a particular prophet of the Old Testament had to say about certain actions. Other times we must recognize whether we are looking at a parable or a miracle story. We may then also need, through prayer and fellowship with other readers, to discover where the picture story can become three-dimensional in our own world. All the while, the Bible invites us to see Jesus and hear him in our own context today.
As Jesus calls others to follow, to give, to love and forgive—what is he asking me to do? Where are the poor and hungry, the sick and needy in my world? Where do I see people waiting for the blessing and hope of God today?
What if we, the church, became the third dimension of the gospel story?