Day 1: More to the Story
Familiarity breeds contempt. Or so the saying goes. If that proves true, that’s a particular danger as we read or teach through familiar biblical passages. Why? Because if a passage has become familiar, that’s usually because it’s a crucial event or doctrine of the faith.
When we are familiar with a text, we are tempted to skim and then possibly edit or add because another fly-by leaves it lacking panache in our minds.
However, as we launch into a week of study based on the wise men’s journey to worship the Christ child as found in Matthew’s gospel, let’s slow down, notice and celebrate the Divine fingerprints in the details of the account. Then, let’s commit ourselves afresh to protecting them – especially when it comes to teaching biblical history to our children.
This is crucial because if we take too much creative licence in our biblical details, we can compromise a child’s future confidence in the inerrancy of Scripture. If a young person discovers that their childhood beliefs are riddled with inaccuracies, the feelings of disillusionment or embarrassment may foster an erosion of trust in the core doctrines they have been taught. On the other hand, honoring the details of the text by respecting the interpretive process, even in children’s literature, can pay rich dividends in the future doctrinal confidence of our young people. By doing so, we can send them into adult life knowing precisely what’s in the Bible and what isn’t, equipping them to skillfully protect themselves from cheap counterfeits.
If we want our children to be careful when they’re older with the life-giving doctrines in Romans and Ephesians, we’d better be careful with the narratives in Luke and Matthew. After all, the rest of the Bible is dedicated to either setting up or explaining the outworkings of these very events.
So, as we work through the divinely crafted details surrounding the physical entrance of God into redemptive history, let’s set aside our bath-towel shepherds and hanger-haloed angels, as adorable as they are, and discover that there truly is more to the story - Not because we find we need to add more to it, but because there is simply more to find if we choose instead to let familiarity breed contemplation.