Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Bible App

I was sitting in a local coffee shop with a friend and I heard a familiar song on the sound system. I couldn't bring it up and so I asked my friend if he knew who the artist was. He said no and then wait a minute and pulled out his iphone and held it up to the music. I have this app he told me that matches any music being played to the artist and song title. Of course, you can also purchase it instantly from itunes. Apps are now a noun and a way of life. There are more apps than anyone can possibly even know about. Time, Wall Street Journal, and the NY Times all have apps and they all have articles describing the top 10 apps everyone needs to have, or the 10 coolest apps, or the best apps for whatever you are into. I confess I am app challenged. I only have a few apps and I don't even use most of them. I have an app for the weather and one to check the flight status of Alaska Air flights and other than those two I don't use apps much. Sad, I know. Funny how with all our apps most of us are still time challenged. Seems like the apps that are supposed to free up time end up taking more of our time. But we are into apps. We like applications. Applied life. Tell me something I can use, useful. It needs to be practical, practicable. I don't have time for stuff that does not help me today.

I have heard that before. Preacher, make sure your sermon has an application. People need to be able to know how to apply what you are saying to life. Or else they will not listen. They want to know how to use it. End your sermon with how to put what you said into practice. Preach "how to" sermons. People will love them. How to pray, how to raise good kids, how to keep your marriage alive, how to forgive, etc, you see there are a million of them. These kinds of sermons scratch where people are itching. They will keep them coming back. The worst comment a preacher can here is that she or he is not relevant, contemporary. Not an app.

I imagine you can get the Bible as an app. That's the way a lot of people use it anyway. A text for the day, or the crisis. If you feel this way, look up such and such. The Bible must meet our demand to be practical, too. Problem is there are large chunks of the Bible that are not. Like genealogies, Old Testament laws and lists of stuff and the Bible is filled with stories that don't seem to be getting anywhere, fast. What is the practical lesson we are supposed to derive from the story of David. Just tell me what it is so I can do it. I don't have time to read the whole thing! What about the story of Jesus! Do you mean I have to read the whole gospel, all four of them? Just break it down and tell me what to do. Get to the point, preacher!

Peter Leithart in his book, Deep Exegesis, writes, "God in his infinite wisdom decided to give us a book, a very long book, and not a portrait or an aphorism." "God reveals himself in his image, Jesus, but we come to know that image by reading, and that takes time." Then, Leithart says, "God wants to transform us into the image of his image, and one of the key ways he does that is by leading us through the text. If we short circuit that process by getting to the practical application, we are not going to be transformed into the ways God wants us to be transformed."

Hmm. Maybe the point is that He wants to know us. And He wants us to know Him. And that happens through a long, and deep and ultimately transforming encounter with His Story, the Bible. Through conversation and relationship. Which takes commitment, and lots of time. A lifelong pursuit to live Godly lives. And there is no app for that.