This week I’m thinking about black Sharpies…

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We continue in the THursdayTHought Re-Run Summer. From September 20, 2018.

“Man, wish it were different.” That was the email I got from one of my readers for this coming Sunday when she noticed what she was going to have to read before the gathered assembly. “Man, wish it were different.”

The text for our Sunday worship this week is the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39). It is a salacious story, full of attempted adultery, lust, and treachery. It’s one of those texts where you want to say: “Really? Where do we go with that?”

There are, quite frankly, lots of these less than savory stories in scripture. There are some that would make you blush or cringe or want to turn the page pretty quickly. They are the stories that we shy away from in Sunday School, in our children’s bibles, and even in our everyday reading of the bible. You may just want to get out your black Sharpie and start crossing through some things!

For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:16

I have to wonder: would the stories of the bible ring as true if we were to take out the confusing parts? Or the scary parts? Or the ugly parts? Would the story of Jesus walking with us be as convincing if he didn’t smell the stink of Lazarus’ decaying body (John 11) or spit into man’s eyes (Mark 8)? Would the stories of God’s interaction with people be as real if there were not stories of unwanted pregnancies and violent deaths?

It seems to me that life is messy: biblical life, our lives. If the pages of the bible were only filled with unicorns and lollipops, how would we ever relate it to the mud and muck of our own lives? How could we possibly imagine that God wanted anything to do with us if the people of the bible were spotless?

As it is, God came to get messy, to walk around in the lust and brutality that surrounds us. And, as God walks, it is redeemed. Our lives with all their ambiguity, are redeemed and restored because God chooses to be with the real stuff of life.


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