From Alistair MacLean's Circus
"Bruno smiled, brought out a wallet, handed some notes to Roebuck, who thanked him and left."
From this sentence, we should be able to draw several conclusions that will in turn show us how to live.
- Smiling is something people will do before giving you money.
- If you want money, get people to smile.
- Wallets are something that must be brought out in order to have the mullah flowing to your hands. Therefore, if you want the money without the smile, you will have to use your powers to somehow bypass the step about getting the person to smile.
- If you are trying to get a friend, fiend, or homeless person to go away, give them money. They will thank you profusely (or not...) and will leave.
We now know how to get money and how to get people to go away. But wait! If getting someone to smile is one of the steps to "legally" getting money, how are we going to do that? We must find another sentence of the book to show us this important step.
"Bruno smiled inwardly as he heard of his own funeral being planned."
- We all know that smiling inwardly will lead to an actual physical smile, so we're well on the way.
- People find it rather funny to hear of their own surprise birthday parties being planned, or, in this case, one's own funeral. You must do something funny for them. Let the person "accidentally" find out about something special for them. This will cause the person to grin. The bigger the grin, the more money is forth-coming.
Congratulations! You now know how to get money!
Okay, feeling pretty confused? You shouldn't be. All I did was to take two sentences and tell you what to do because of those two sentences.
I can tell you're still not convinced. Come on! I gave you a whole new practical skill, and it was so extremely easy! All I did was take two random sentences and draw conclusions from those. Simple.
Now are you convinced?
Neither am I.
However, I'm often surprised at how many people do this exact same thing to the Bible without blinking an eye (it's scary, but I'm in such a habit that I still do it sometimes). Is it just because it's a "Holy book" that people somehow feel like they can start reading parts without any relationship to the rest of the book? Believe it or not, the Bible is a real...live...book. Yes, a book. It is, of course, a very special book, and I would never deny its authority. However, I'm going to go as far as saying that this Book can (and should!) be read like any other book. In saying this, I mean that it should be read in order - not pulling random verses out for scrutiny without knowing any of its context. Just like those two sentences from Circus don't make a whole lot of sense without knowing where they fit into the story, individual verses out of context aren't going to make sense without knowing the historical context. The Bible has a plot. Not hundreds of little plots. One complex yet surprisingly simple plot. That plot is the most important and life-changing plot that a book could ever have, and yet, so many people overlook it. Instead, they see hundreds of little plots all showing us how to be better and wiser people. All these plots are actually facets of the Big Plot. What is this plot? It starts right back in Genesis when man died (spiritually), and the perfect, shalomic world was marred with the ugly reality of man trying to do instead of be. And yet God, out of His mercy, promised to bring life out of this seemingly indestructible death. This sets the action rolling, and the whole Old Testament is leading to the Christ Event. Each individual story in the OT is actually showing God's faithfulness despite man's faithlessness. It continually shows God keeping His promise of bringing life out of the woman who had brought death. And then the most glorious and profound thing happens. Christ does come (what do you know?), and with His coming, His life, and His death, sin, darkness, and death are conquered. Life has come out of death. The NT is the outworking of the Gospel, and it shows how all the "laws, prophets, and writings" were fulfilled in Christ. What an amazing plot! So simple yet so profound that most people don't even realize it's there.
Though I am *very* thankful to live in a Christian family and to be brought up as a Christian, I find it almost a little enviable to think that those who have never read or heard the Bible don't have all their preconceived notions about what the Bible is. Those of us who have been brought up as Christians have the distinct privilege of having some of our earliest memories as being told Bible stories. And yet, sometimes I think that's almost a curse. When we've been brought up like that, we have it ingrained into us that the Bible is just full of short little stories to tell us how to live. Though this isn't completely wrong, it falls very short of what is actually contained in the Bible. If a Christian ever figures out that the Bible is just one story, it takes many years of rewiring before he can finally get to a passage in the OT without immediately trying to apply it to himself as a moral lesson.
Yes, I am a little jealous of those who didn't have the privilege of growing up in a Christian home.
They pick the Bible up for the first time. They notice it's divided into many sections, yet they know from reading other books that skipping around in it is the way to spell disaster. Why ruin a perfectly good book? They start in Genesis, and they are immediately taken with the awesome God who creates all things to be good. Perfect. Shalomic. Things are perfect until - oh, why did they have to ruin it all?!? But wait! God is promising to restore them. Well, that ought to make them shape up. After all, in this world of reciprocity, you do something nice for others who have performed acts of kindness to you. Wait. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING!!! Again! How could they...? How terrible! What? You mean that God is still faithful to them? You mean He will still keep his promise to the people? A sense of awe and love for this God fills the person. What wonder! And they're immediately whisked away with this plot of God's saving work...
Oh, BTW, happy half-birthday to me. =)