How do we know what to believe about Jesus and God?
Jews, Christians and Muslims are known as ‘People of the Book’ ( (עם הספר, Am HaSefer in Hebrew and أهل الكتاب ′Ahl al-Kitāb in Arabic). For Followers of Jesus, the ‘Book’ is the Bible, which is divided into the Old Testament that Christians believe looks forward to Jesus, and the New Testament, which tells the story of Jesus and his Followers in the First Century CE.
Academics disagree (it is what they do, it is in their job description) about the reliability or accuracy of the Bible, but tens of millions of Followers of Jesus over the centuries have found that the Bible is like a web portal to knowing, and being known by, God. But how do we interpret and apply the words we read to the pressures, stresses, moral dilemmas and challenges of the 21st Century?
Tom Wright in the eighties suggested that we should look at the Bible as an unfinished Five Act Play. To understand the Bible we need to get to know its characters, understand its setting, and follow its plot.
- Act 1 is Creation,
- Act 2 is The Fall,
- Act 3 is about Israel, the descendants of Abraham,
- Act 4 is about Jesus, and
- Act 5 is about the Church.
Act 5 is unfinished. But we, as Followers of Jesus, are actors in this Play, and we have to maintain the integrity of the Four Acts that went before us, and the actions and drama that have taken place so far in the Fifth Act.
So an important part of Wellbeing Church is making sure we have all absorbed the story so far, so that we can be effective actors in the continuing drama.