Doug Chaplin has decided to start a meme. For background, check out the link. The question to answer is - I rephrase slightly:
What ten verses of the Bible sum up that book’s message more than the others? Personalized, the question might go something like this: what ten verses or passages of the Bible challenge and comfort you like no others?
I’m going to give two replies to the question. [Surprise.] The first is based on a seldom-observed fact: long before God gives any answers, God asks questions.
Furthermore, that same God - if the Bible is the word of God to those who have ears to hear, even and especially when it records human words addressed to God – honors questions posed to him.
Here are twelve paradigmatic questions in the Bible:
(1) “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) [God to Adam and Eve]
(2) “Where is your brother?” (Genesis 4:9) [God to Cain]
(3) “Where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
(Genesis 22:7) [Isaac to his father]
(4) "Why, Lord, do you let us stray from your ways?"
(Isaiah 63:17) [the prophet to God]
(5) "Are you right to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4) [God to a justice-obsessed Jonah]
(6) “How long, O Lord, will you forever ignore me?” (Psalm 13:2)
(7) “Who may dwell, O Lord, on your holy mountain?” (Psalm 15:1)
(8) “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 22:2)
(9) “Would you impugn my justice?
Do you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8) [God to Job]
(10) “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
[Jesus to his disciples and the large crowd who accompanied him]
(11) “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29) [Jesus to his disciples]
(12) “Sovereign Lord, holy and true,
how long will it be before you pass sentence
and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?”
(Revelation 6:10) [the martyrs to God]
The meaning of life consists in responding, asking, and bearing witness to these questions.
Doug also notes that some of the verses he lives by are not in the Bible at all. His examples are splendid. Many readers of this blog know I have a four year old daughter. Anna can be capricious at times, but I have one sure way to calm her down. “Can I read a story?” I ask. She always says yes. This excerpt is from last night’s reading:
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” the Rabbit asked, “or bit by bit?’
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real, you can’t be ugly.”
From the The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. Actually, I quote from the adapted version found in What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know: Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning (ed. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., and John Holden; The Core Knowledge Series - Resource Books for Kindergarten Through Grade Six; New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1997) 97. Yes, that is the E. D. Hirsch, of Validity in Interpretation. Yes, I do home-school my kids, though I also send them to public school. I think every parent should. I do it for my sake, first of all.