Every once in a while when I am teaching or preaching, I hear an “Ouch!” or a “Yikes!” from one of the persons in the class/congregation. The other day I received an e-mail with a few comments on my last post. At least one statement I’d made received a “Yikes!”
Of course, being a lover of words, I had to ascertain the precise meanings of these words. Well, according to my Webster’s, they are defined as follows:
“Ouch – interjection – used especially to express sudden pain.”
“Yikes – interjection – used to express fear or astonishment.”
It seemed interesting to me that a quote from, or a comment on a passage of Scripture could arouse pain, fear or astonishment. Was it something I said, or the way I said it? I really don’t want to scare people or hurt them.
But the Scriptures do at times frighten us. They can poke us and pain us.
I have been a reader of and a student of the Bible for over 50 years. I have read through the book at least once in every one of those years and studied most of it in depth. It is very easy to fall into a rut of just reading the words or the stories without feeling them, without receiving their painful jabs.
But every so often something will leap from the pages and arouse an “ouch!” Or “yikes!” Or perhaps when I’m sitting in church, listening to the preacher go on about a familiar passage and he suddenly opens up something I hadn’t seen before. Or someone in a Bible study will make a comment or ask a question that had never entered my mind.
Now I’m not talking about some new and interesting interpretation of some familiar text. I’m talking about a new application – a moment when I’m hit with the fact that this text is making demands on me that I have not been carrying out, or have been unwilling to carry out.
This Sunday I’m beginning a new Sunday school class with a small group of adults. I plan on taking them through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). When I’ve told people about my topic, some have asked questions like “What are you going to do with it?” or “What are your goals?”
Of course, I could give many standard answers, like “I want the students to learn to live by its principles,” or something like that. But I’m enough of a realist to recognize that lives don’t change much over a few weeks or months of teaching.
Perhaps I should simply say that I’m looking for a few good “Yikes!” moments, those times when those in the class (myself included) will be hit between the eyes with a demand of Jesus that we’d never been confronted with before – a demand that will change our thinking and actions even if only in some small way.