I enjoy reading and profit greatly from the works of other authors. As much as it pleases me, it also helps me perfect my craft. Samuel Clemens said, “A man will work his way through a library to write one book.“ We live in a great time with old books digitized and free online and others for sale and delivered in a day from Amazon or Abe books.
There are three reading stations in my home. The breakfast nook holds the book which causes me to think on matters of faith. Where I perform my ablutions has the latest news on real estate. My nightstand has two volumes; a best seller in the fiction genre and the best seller in nonfiction, the book of truth, the Bible. I use the fiction to bring on sleep at night and the Bible to wake me up for a good start in the morning.
Recently, I picked up two of John Jake’s books on the Civil War. Quickly it came to me that I was missing the first volume of the trilogy to which they belong. Should I start in the middle or wait until I had acquired the first of the three? Another thought came to mind. Virtually every time in life when I meet a new person, I am picking up their story in the middle. My mind wants to know what happened before. Tyler Staton’s sermon on Demonstrating the Gospel, A Presence: Water at Bridgetown Church in Portland covers our fascination with this mystery quite well. https://bridgetown.church/teaching/demonstrating-the-gospel/water/
We never know a person’s full story. We barely understand our own or take the time to contemplate how we got to this point of success and failure. With a new stranger, the battle between judgment and appreciation begins. Advising them? That is a risky business with only part of the story.
Jesus simplified the problem. He said to love them. He did not say love them IF. If they are worth it, if they are pure, if they are like me, or if they are clean. No, He said love them. He also said to tell them the story of His life, Jesus’ life.
The 900 pages of the Old Testament are the backstory of Jesus life before birth. To “get” the point of this backstory, find the 300+ times it predicts the Messiah therein. If you haven’t done so already, take a year and read from page 1 to the end of Revelation. Then you will understand the middle more than ever before.