As we make our way through The Whole Story, we have now arrived at the final book in the Wisdom of Israel, the Song of Songs.
We have defined wisdom in these five books—Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and now the Song of Songs—as applied skill and competence in our living. And this kind of wise living is only possible if we recognize that God has hardwired wisdom into the world, that there is an inner logic to the way everything works, and the only way we will discover how to live according to the inner logic and the way he has hardwired it is by listening to, obeying, and following the Creator and Designer of it all.
Furthermore, we have to do this in every single area of our living. We must find the path of wisdom, leaving no area of life untouched.
I was read this comment on our culture this past week:
“In the name of advertising and entertainment, human bodies become commodities and people become products. Ironically, true romance and intimacy vanish in an age when everything becomes sensual.”
True romance and intimacy vanish.
What I grieve for our culture, and my neighbors, and my family members, and our children, and the generations to follow is the loss of beauty that is bound up in true romance: desire-satisfying, soul-feeding, thirst-quenching, pleasure-producing, God-glorifying, self-sacrificing, other-focused—TRUE—physical and relational intimacy.
That kind of romance is truly beautiful. And in a world engorged on sensuality, we have lost our ability to taste and see true beauty.
Which is why—now more than ever—we need the Song of Songs. For in the Song, the God of the Bible, in the Bible, confronts our culture and shows us where we have been wrong. He presents to us a picture of true beauty.
Friends, by God’s grace, he gave me the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the heart to feel—more than on any previous reading—the sheer beauty of the Song. Here we find two people enraptured with each other. Here we find two people satisfied by each other. We find joy, and delight, and pleasure, and laughter, and ecstasy, and celebration. We find vulnerability and safety, security and affirmation, gratitude and self-sacrifice, humility and leadership. Here we find the power and importance of the private and intimate, and the critical role of public displays and communal accountability and affirmation.
The Song holds up the beauty and meaning of a love relationship and a celebration of the marriage covenant that is spiritual, emotional, physical, vivid, highly charged, and erotic. And it is held up as a contrast to what our culture is holding out to us, and particularly our young people, in books, movies, and social media.
It is highly charged, without being tawdry.
It is frank and forthright, without being sophomoric.
It is erotic, without being graphic.
Friends, for a culture—outside and inside of the church—desperate, and longing for physical and relational intimacy, the Song of Songs is a major pathway of wisdom to living this aspect of a good life. It is so helpful that I have never been as tempted as I have this week to stop The Whole Story and stay in the Song for the next ten weeks. We need it that badly.
But, I kept it to one sermon, which you can listen to here. And if you’d like to study it further, I commend the Song of Songs page over at the Bible Project. I hope that you find the sermon thought-provoking, and that it creates conversations with not-yet-believers and other Jesus-followers, as we continue to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, together.
One final reminder—if you’d like to be ready for this coming Sunday at Calvary, please read the book of Jeremiah, as we dive back into the prophetic works of the Old Testament.
Seeking the Beautiful,
I had a class on preaching once, many years ago, from a pastor and a professor. And here is what he argued was the key question the preacher must ask of every text of Scripture:
2 Corinthians and The Whole Story
The reason that we began the Whole Story sermon series in January of last year was for the simple reason that we wanted to inspire you to read the Bible.
In the unsearchable counsel of God's will for the world, he has so designed that salvation will come through the church, that body of people gathered by the power of his Holy Spirit.
Why Should I Read The Bible?
Most days I love waking up, coffeeing up, praying up, and then gobbling up the Bible. But not every day. I’m just like you in that. I need reminding about why the Bible — God’s Whole Story — is an important part of my day, for every other part of my day.
One of the dangers of reading the stories of those followers of Jesus that we find in the Bible is we can treat them as if they are almost super-human.
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Whole Story
On Sunday, January 7th, we will begin a year and a half exploration of the whole story of the whole Bible...
1 Corinthians (part two)
This last Sunday in our Gathering, we studied the book of 1 Corinthians together. The week of preparation leading up to that moment in the pulpit was deeply encouraging, as I sat at the feet of Paul, and watched him apply the reality of Jesus and the fullness of the Good News to four main issues in the lives of Christians in the church at Corinth. I discovered that each issue was a case study in the application of the good news to the very practical matters of our lives.