The new Star Wars movie is out this week in the UK. The final piece of the jigsaw will be in place and many of the loose ends will be tied up. I loved the original movies when they first came out. I had never seen anything like them before and they were enthralling. I remember the local cinema putting on a Star Wars evening and going with student friends to see Episodes IV to VI in succession - a six hour extravaganza. It all clicked - it made sense.
Except for the question: what happened to Episodes I to III? Well, now we have them. Maybe a local cinema will put on an all-nighter so that we can see all six, or just get some friends together, pool the DVDs (when the last becomes available) and enjoy 12 hours straight. Will it all fit together? Will it still make sense?
Imagine we didn't have an all-nighter. Instead,
- suppose we agreed that we would only watch 10 minutes a week together.
- Suppose some of us hadn't seen all the films, some had only seen, say, one of them, and maybe we had some friends who had never seen any of them, but wanted to find out what they were all about.
- Suppose also we asked those who had seen all the movies to choose the most important 10-minute slots for the rest of us to watch so that as soon as possible the less experienced watchers would "get-it".
So we would all sit down to watch on the first evening. One person would shout out two numbers. The first would be between 1 and 6 - the episode number. The second would be between 1 and roughly 120 - the number of minutes into the film from where we were to watch. Another person would select the right DVD and get it to the right place and press "play". The assembled group would watch the 10-minute slot and then have pizza afterwards.
And so on it would go, week after week, watching 10-minute slots. I wonder how long it would take for everyone to "get it"? For quite a number of weeks they would just be random snatches of the movie and wouldn't make much sense. Occasionally, there might be an overlap with a part that was watched before and so it would begin to fit. Those who had seen the movies before would have an advantage. With their background knowledge they would be able to place each 10-minute slot in the grand scheme of things. They might be able to talk about it over pizza. But those who had no background wouldn't have much idea for a long time and would much rather talk about chilli pepper topping.
You would hope that eventually someone might stand up and say, "Look, wouldn't it be better if we just set aside some 2-hour slots, and decide to watch them one after the other? Even better, let's have an all-nighter!"
It seems to me that the church is full of people who do not read the Bible very often. They will read it on Sunday in the services, but forget about it in-between. Such people have a couple of toe-holds on the truth, but not much more. They live in a sea of mystery and confusion about the rest of it. In modern times such mystery and confusion has become a virtue - a badge of 'honesty'. They explore their feelings and 'struggles' with the faith. They will share their struggles in blogs, pontificate at house-groups. But they never seem to get anywhere. The issues always seem to be the same.
Here's a suggestion. Set aside chunks of time and read the Bible. Good chunks. Plenty of them. Read systematically. Follow a plan (M'Cheyne's is good). Aim to read the Bible in a year. As you do so think about how it fits with what you have already read. When you have finished, do it again. On the second lap you are more familiar with the terrain. You find it gets easier to fit it all together. Go for a third lap. A fourth. A fifth... All the time more and more pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. You will begin to "get it".
Whatever you do, keep going! You can stop when you die. That's allowed.