When I was in high school I had an English teacher who was preparing us for the AP English examination. She would teach us about essay writing and literature and would say, “Put this in your repertoire.” She would constantly give us handouts and I finally got a manila folder and labeled it “Repertoire Incarnate” so I could keep track of all the information she was giving to us. When I studied for the AP exam I would work through that material and memorize certain portions of it in hope that it would be helpful when it came time for the test.
Christianity seems to have its own scriptural repertoire. I guess you could call it an unofficial canon within the canon of favorite scriptures that we refer back to on a regular basis. These are scriptures like, “as iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17), “Seek first his kingdom” (Mtt 6:33), “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13)), and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Rom8:28). There are several others but you hear the same ones with so much regularity you wonder if we are really getting a broader perspective on scripture than just a few dozen verses taken out of context.
There are several things that need to happen to correct this. I say correct hesitantly because I think it is great that people actually know scripture. However, I think it would be better if they knew more and they knew it in context. It is time we take a step back and start looking at things in context. In our preaching and teaching we need to provide people with a broader context of what is going on and why that verse is where it is. You cannot converse with a verse by itself. It speaks in all its fullness when it is heard in its context. Imagine if I played you a note on a violin and I said, “Isn’t that beautiful…you know what that is right?” You say, “That was C.” I say, “No, that was from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concerto 1…” You don’t get that when a single note is played apart from the rest. It loses a part of its beauty when it is singled out and played out of context of the rest of the piece.
We will always have our favorite verses but we should also have an appreciation 1) for those verses in context and 2) for a wider range of scriptures. This takes study and a concentrated effort to push forward and put the word of God in our hearts on a regular basis.
So what’s in your repertoire?