An English teacher once asked the class of students what they were studying. In fact, they had a novel that they were studying. And one of the students put their hand up and said rather pompously, “Well, look, it’s about life” and the teacher’s reply. “Well, isn’t every novel about life?”
That’s an interesting statement. Interesting response from the teacher. And it’s true. We learn so much about life through reading novels, whatever sort you like, you can learn a lot about life. We can also learn a lot about life from other people. I’m sure in your life, as in mine, there have been lots of people that you’ve met and they’ve impacted your life in one way or another.
We look at our family and the things they do and the lessons and mistakes that they make. We can learn from them, our friends and our colleagues at work. So if we try and observe and reflect on these things that happen around us, we can actually choose what to apply for our own life. We can certainly learn a lot and imitate a lot from other people.
Well, we can take exactly the same approach when reading, for example, a book of fiction, we learn from what the characters do and experience.
So who was your favourite author?
You might be reading a book by Tom Clancy, John Grisham or Bryce Courtney. These people, you can think of the questions like, “How would I react in the circumstances that the character is being portrayed in?”, “what do I learn from him?” “What do I learn from the mistakes that the character has made in this book?”
Maybe I should try to be more like the main character in the book that talks about integrity. So there’s all sorts of different stories about the ways and the bends and the weaves of life.
Now the idea is not to try to equate our own life with that of a fictional character. We’re not all lawyers or CIA agents or heroes. What we do get from these books are the principles that people live by or the moral code that they may or may not uphold and the example they set for others.
So in other words, what I’m saying today is, although we may not become the next president of the United States, we can still hate injustice in society just as much as in the fictional stories we read.
Although it’s not a book of fiction, we can learn from the Bible in exactly the same way
So while it’s unlikely we can relate specifically to the actual situation, for example, of a Hebrew slave in the Bible, a shepherd or a soldier in the Israelite Army we can still read their stories and we can find the great examples. We can be captivated by the lessons and the examples.
For example, let me take one of the many themes that the Bible has – humility. And I have here in front of me John 13 and this marvelous story. How Jesus, He poured water into a basin and He began to wash the disciples feet and to wipe them, and he came to Peter. Peter wasn’t very happy, but he said, “Well, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? And yet I am doing nothing for you.”
“You don’t understand,” Jesus said.
And Peter said, “You’ll never wash my feet. And then Peter said to Jesus Lord, not my feet, but my hands and my head.” And so the conversation went on between Jesus and Peter in John 13.
And the whole point of this was that Jesus was giving us an example. Jesus said that you should do as I have done.
A servant, he said, is not greater than his master. Nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. Now that’s one example from John 13. Humility.
So if you want to know who deserves your help, for example, there’s another story in the Bible, and that’s the story of the Good Samaritan. I don’t have time today to read that in Luke 10. You can have a look at it yourself, or if you feel inadequate in your life, you can look at Exodus 3 and Exodus 4.
You can read about Moses and the struggle that he had. So what I’m saying today is that the characters, these real-life characters in the Bible as you read them, you can learn some of the important and pertinent lessons of life.
Well, Lord, will you show us your purpose and plan before we rush off today? Things that we have to do, I pray you’ll touch us with your peace and bring us love and healing. Lord, we pray that today we’ll have those lasting and satisfying memories of the good things that we’ve accomplished, or even just the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done our duty. So thank you for your Word. The Bible that applies to our life. And I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.