A while ago one of the guys at my bible study challenged the group to be able to not only memorize verses, but to be able to cite them. This is indeed a challenge for me, as I can usually remember a story or a certain message and where ont he page it is located, but not always word for word or the reference. I have been trying, though, and even though I’m not always successful this practice has brought me new understanding about my relationship with the Word.
Keeping this challenge in mind I have started to notice if fellow Christians are memorizing word for word, if they are looking at verses in context, and if they are recalling the reference as well. I’m still pretty awful at it on a regular basis, even this week I went to bring up a verse and completely forgot what book it was in. I was surprised I remembered so much of it, I could see it in my mind at the bottom of the right page and continued on for a few sentences at the top of the next page… but the reference? Gone. (It was 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and thankfully I didn’t misinterpret it.)
So keeping all this in mind, last week I found myself in an awkward situation.
I went to my friend’s bible study at a different church. It was way different from 20 people piled on top of each other. The small group was 30+ people, and there were about a thousand small groups. It was interesting, and it introduced me to new challenges, like paying attention to so many people giving their names and the last meal they would eat if on death row (I hate ice breakers) and not laughing in the face of the group leader.
Before you start thinking it, let me inform you of this: I’m an asshole. This group leader deserves a lot of credit. He obviously has a strong passion for Christ. He’s smart, focused in the way that only a former athlete can be, and has a huge heart for people. He also is very into his lesson plan, and very intent on the group digging into the word and using more than one scripture to make a point. I was all, “Oh hey, what a good idea! It’s like a research paper/discussion about what I’m getting from the bible! Challenge accepted.”
So I’m pretty impressed because this guy knows the book of Mark and the other gospels inside out, and I’m learning a few things while being the loudmouth that I am and adding to the discussion. Then he brings up Sodom and Gomorrah to illustrate a point. He explained to the group how God warned Lot he was going to bring judgment on the city he lived in and how because of this chance Lot got to bargain for the city, asking if there were 10 righteous people for the city to be spared, 5 righteous, 1 righteous person. And because God gave him that warning Lot got the chance to try to save people.
Genesis 18:16-33 tells a story about how the Lord was visiting with Abraham, telling him about how Sarah was going to be pregnant in a year, and decided to send two of his angels to check out how awful S&G were. The Lord told Abraham about how he would be raining judgment down on the cities, and he allowed Abraham to plead for the cities. He asked that the people be spared if 50 men were righteous, and begged that number down to 10.
Being the person I am, I turned to the guy sitting next to me to educate him. I felt we had begun a comradery, since we both used our phones impolitely during the meeting to text and look up scripture. I whispered at him, “It wasn’t 1 person, it was 10. And it wasn’t Lot, it was Abraham!”
I honestly felt a little too embarrassed for the leader to tell him in front of everyone that he just used a story to illustrate a point that was told so inaccurately that Fox news would be all over using him as an anchor for their national programming. So my new pal, being supportive and grateful for this correction, turns to me and whispers,