Having the diverse group that we have at our Bible Study is magnificent, and terrible. What we have is one lady in her fifties or possibly sixties, who is single with a few grown kids. I may be getting her mixed up with someone else, but I’m pretty sure the first time she and I talked she told me she’d done a bunch of acid at some point in her life. She is one of those people who is really awkward, because she says things that are so off… everyone just nods and smiles sometimes, and then we change the subject because we don’t know what else to do. I don’t really know what her faith background is, but she says things that definitely make it seem like she doesn’t know what it is to be a Christian… I’m not saying that in an insulting way, I hope. I mean that she has genuinely not been exposed to Christianity beyond what all American culture experiences. She has tattooed Psalm 1:1-6 on her body somewhere, and has pointed this out more than once.
Then, there’s this kid who’s in his early twenties. I think he’s going to school, but it’s sometimes hard to tell. He works at a coffee shop, and sometimes talks about studying religion and spirituality. He’s smiley and upbeat… and I take him to be pretty naive and untested. I’m also not sure what his faith history is, but I get the feeling he’s only just starting to dig in and see the depth. He often says super positive things that aren’t quite on-topic at Bible Study.
Then, there’s this ridiculously attractive 28 ish guy who disagrees with a lot of what we’re covering, on all topics contributing that he thinks a person can do _______ and still not know God. This is obviously true, but I wonder if he’s speaking from a love of God or a love of the world. We covered the Ten Commandments last week, and I got the feeling that he disapproves of all law, regardless of its source. I’m probably not being fair, because he really didn’t say that; it’s just a suspicion I have. I just worry that he would be completely content divorcing Jesus from justice, which doesn’t really work.
Then, there are our leaders, a young couple, who are adorable, tactful, humble, and hospitable. They’ve gone through a fair amount of training and preparation to be ready to lead this Bible Study, and I think they are trying pretty hard to do a good job.
Then, there’s me. If I were to describe myself, which can’t possibly be accurate, I’d say that I’m 31, single, independent, and well-studied.
So, I tell you all of this to give you a sense of how this happened.
We were talking about the Ten Commandments, and I was getting worried that we were dismissing them. The hot guy was doing his thing about how it would be easy for a person to follow the Ten Commandments and not know God. Our leaders were asking careful questions of him, having him elaborate. Then, the 50 ish lady was saying things that were really off and not at all true. I was looking things up.
So one of the leaders was like, “Katie, what are you looking for?” I told her I was trying to put the Ten Commandments into their appropriate context, so we did that for awhile… at least the leaders and I did. And we came to exactly what I was looking for… in various places in the OT, the Ten Commandments are presented as a part of covenant. They are part of God’s agreement with Israel for them to be His people and Him to be their God.
I took this up and ran with it. I was so excited. I was all aglow with the thought that I didn’t need to work at making the Ten Commandments relevant and worthy of obedience… the Bible had it covered.
During this whole thing, either the hot guy or the lady said something about the Pharisees and how they followed the Ten Commandments, but Jesus condemned them for it… to which I was like, “I don’t think he condemned them for that; I think he condemned them for adding their own laws, overburdening people with too many laws, and disregarding the heart of the law.”
Then the lady was all, “The Pharisees didn’t obey the Ten Commandments.”
And we got into a, “Yes, they did,” “No, they didn’t,” argument. Of course there was more to it than that, but at the end, she said, “You are really intelligent.”
That gave me pause. I couldn’t believe that’s where we had landed. I didn’t know what to say. Why didn’t she see that it wasn’t about me? Or her? It’s supposed to be about God.
I felt so certain that what I’d said was glorifying to God. I felt certain that I’d pointed to how important obedience to the law is, because it’s one piece of God’s covenant with us… it’s one piece of Christ crucified to purchase us with a price. I’d said that and more.
And what she’d gotten out of it was that Katie is really intelligent.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve been in a Bible Study with people who aren’t coming from the same theological place I’m coming from… and it’s been such a long time since I’ve been in a Bible Study with anyone who doesn’t have a college degree… if not a Master’s or Doctorate.
How did I so easily communicate the opposite of what I intended? How did I become such a terrible stumbling block while I was trying to communicate the truth?