Perspective

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Last week I had the chance to interact with some pastors and ministry leaders that were in town for the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Discussing the Bible and children's ministry with people from Ireland, Germany, China, South Africa, Mauritius, and Congo was very interesting.
 
A small debate occurred about how to read the Bible in context. Both sides made important points: we must remember the original context of the Bible, and try to discover what it meant to the first readers in order to uncover meaning for ourselves. But the Word is also living and active—written for the past, present, and future; so we must also approach it in our context, bringing all of our experiences to the table to see how it speaks to us in the situations we face every day. It became clear that the Bible belongs to the whole Christian community, gathered from around the world and throughout the ages. As we read and interpret it together we understand it more fully.
 
One of the delegates challenged me to hold in mind the children who are affected by war, famine, and oppression as I read Bible stories. What would children who are displaced find in this story? What would children who are hungry hear in this story? What questions would they ask? What would they wonder about? It made me realize how often I do forget the rest of the world as I interpret scripture. I wonder how much more there is to this book than my western eyes can see.    
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I was struck by this years ago when a group I was in studied John Timmer's book *The Kingdom Equation: A Fresh Look at the Parables of Jesus.* He really explores the way that the meaning and impact of the parables are affected by the Eastern culture within which they were told.