Songbird over at Revgalblogpals had a great idea Friday Five yesterday; she asked us to share our five favorite Bible verses.
It's Saturday night, but I liked her idea so much I thought I'd go ahead and play, even really really really late.
Here are mine (sort of), with some backstory:
1. "If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17. Whenever someone asks me, "what is your favorite Bible verse?", this is what I say. The first time my dad asked me, I recited this verse, and he said, "Wow." (He always quipped that his favorite Bible verse is, "Jesus wept.") I think this verse comes from my fervant college days, when I was involved in one of those raise-your-hands-in-the-air, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, pray-with-laying-on-of-hands sort of groups. This verse reminds me that Christianity is not some sort of spiritual -self-improvement project. It's a new life in a new creation.
2. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (Luke's version, in 10:27.) The longer I am a pastor, the more I like this verse, and think it would make a terrific motto for a congregation (i.e. First Church, loving God and loving our neighbors since 1947...) Then see if we are really doing it. I once heard an explanation of "loving neighbor as self" -- in Biblical terms, "loving yourself" is not about self-esteem, but about how you treat yourself; for example, do you want enough to eat? Do you want warm clothes and meaningful work? Do you want a roof over your head? Then want those things for your neighbor too.
3. "Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25.
A friend of mine put this verse citation at the end of every letter she sent me while I was living in Japan. ah, letters. that brings back memories.
4. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness" who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 2 Corinthians 4:6, 7. So, what is it about 2 Corinthians? This was part of my ordination passage. The "earthen vessels" is the way the old RSV translates it.
5. What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Micah 6:8. One year our social justice committee had a ministry booth where they gave out Bible verses on a stick. This was the verse. A friend recently had this insight: usually we get the two parts of the verse backwards, instead of doing justice and loving mercy, we love justice and do kindness. Because doing justice is much harder. It makes us feel good to work at the food shelf, and house homeless families in our church. It's certainly necessary, too. But "doing justice" is the hard work of trying to decrease the inequities so that there will not be hungry homeless people.
I'm aware that in naming five, I've thought of at least as many more that I didn't mention. Are these really my top five? Who knows?
Maybe a new blog feature should be "Bible verse of the week."