In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . .
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
Several times in our life, my wife and I purchased a picture for our home. We liked the photograph or painting and felt fairly sure it would add beauty to our life. Before hanging it on the wall, however, Linda would head off to the frame store. A couple of weeks later, she’d return with the framed picture. I would be amazed by how much the frame influenced how I saw the picture. It not only added to the overall beauty of the picture but also helped to highlight key colors or themes. It helped my eyes see what they ought to see. Indeed, the right frame can make all the difference.
The same could be said for the Bible. No, I’m not talking about a literal frame or getting the right cover for your Bible. I’m speaking rather of the narrative and theological frame of Scripture, that which surrounds the whole biblical account. I’m talking, in particular, about the opening chapters of Genesis and the closing chapters of Revelation, the first two chapters in the Bible and the last two chapters. They enable us to see things in Scripture that are vital and beautiful, things we miss without the right frame.
For much of my life, I read my Bible “unframed,” or, perhaps, “partly framed.” Sure, I knew that God created the heavens and the earth, including human beings. And, sure, I knew that, in the end, Christ was coming again. But these truths and others found in Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22 made relatively little difference to my theological understanding, not to mention my daily living. My theology really began in Genesis 3, with sin and what we call “the Fall.” Sin and death began to frame the biblical story for me. The main narrative of the Bible, as far as I could tell, was a story of how God dealt with the personal problem of sin. Genesis 3 led to the crucial center of the story, which was the death of Jesus. Through his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus overcame the stain of sin, offering eternal life instead of everlasting death. Everything else in Scripture was secondary to this big story, the movement from sin to salvation through the cross.
Now, let me hasten to add that I still believe what happened in Genesis 3 is profoundly relevant to our lives. Sin is life’s biggest problem. Moreover, the death of Christ on the cross, along with the resurrection, are indeed the most important and central events of history. They are also events that deeply shape my faith and life. I believe that Christ died so that I might be forgiven and rose so that I might enter into the life of God. No events in history have a greater bearing on my life than the death and resurrection of Jesus.
However, when I framed the biblical story mainly by the death-bringing events of Genesis 3 and the eternal-life-giving events of the Gospels, I missed much of the story of Scripture. I wasn’t able to see that God does more than save individuals from sin and death, as wonderful as that may be. My frame limited my vision, which also limited the way I lived each day.
In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion, I want to pursue further the question of how the wider biblical frame helps us to see everything in a fresh, expansive light. For now, let me encourage you to reflect on your own “frame” when it comes to what you believe and how you live.
Something to Think About:
What is your “frame” for the biblical story? What features of Scripture most influence how you read everything else?
If Genesis 3—the entrance of sin and death into the world—begins our story, what are we missing? Why does this matter?
Gracious God, thank you for telling your “story” in Scripture, a story that is profoundly true, amazingly beautiful, and utterly transformational. As we seek to understand and live this story, give us eyes to see what we need to see. In particular, help us to note the “frame” you have given us and take it seriously. Give us fresh eyes to see the wonder of your good news, so that we might live this good news each and every day. Amen.