I was working on a LIFE group lesson about the front doors the church has where people first encounter the church. Being in ministry I am often thinking about ministries and how we can get people in the door through our ministries (Small groups, worship, service projects, etc). So I opened up the Bible and began looking for biblical examples in the early church of “front door ministries”. I had a really hard time coming up with anything at all. I was stumped. I could have proof texted a few verses, strung them together and made a point but it would have been my point and not the Bible’s point. I ended up realizing that the front doors to the church really aren’t ministries. The front doors are people, each and every one of us. Now that is biblical, practical, and better than anything I could have come up with trying to twist a bunch of disconnected scriptures around to make a point not really found in the Bible.
It is important we let the Bible say what it means to say and not what we want it to say. Another place we see this is in the study of the Song of Solomon. In the past, people were so worried about the sexually explicit content of the book that they allegorized it into being about the relationship between Christ and the church. Once you do that to the book all that sex talk couldn’t possibly have anything to do with sex! Once ancient Christian scholar, Hippolytus, allegorized the book in order to make it teach his pet doctrine, asceticism. Asceticism is defined as abstinence from all pleasures. In other words, his interpretation for the book, interpreted it to mean exactly the opposite of what it was literally saying. Another ancient scholar used the allegorical approach to say the talk of the woman’s two breasts were symbols of the Old and New Testaments or of the Law and the Gospels! We have to let scripture speak for itself and not twist it into saying what we want it to say or because we don’t think it should say this or that.
How often do we get in the way, muddle things up and complicate things until what we have to say about scripture is completely disconnected from the contents themselves?