Hah, just kidding. I mean, about the theologian part. I will not be speaking at Passion 2012. However, I just have to tell you that there is something very right about reading the bible for yourself. It is the only complete written authority on itself. Everyone else is a commentator. There are very, very good commentators that God has gifted to teach others through the way they understand and communicate the ideas of scripture to others. These good commentators don't have to be other authors; both Tim Keller and some homeless guy are great commentators on the word of God. They do it through writing, words, actions, reactions, everything communicable to others. But there are also some really bad commentators, ones who claim to understand the truth when they really distort it, by taking it out of context, twisting it, or plainly misinterpreting the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek. They could write books about how doing enough good things will get you money (yes, Joel O'Steen, I'm looking at you) or they could hold mean signs at your school or at someone's funeral. All I'm saying is the only reliable way to know the bible is to read the bible itself. That way, you can balance out the commentary and discern how much of it you should trust and absorb, and how much you should not.
Sidetracked: party of one!
Anyways, I was reading Psalm 106 this fine evening, just because it was what I flipped open to at random. (This is a really fun way to find stuff, in my opinion. Most of the time that's what I tend to do. Ezekiel 27 was a trip, haha.) This is a really great, long psalm about God's faithfulness to his not-so-faithful people. The verses that stuck out to me from the very beginning were these:
"Yet he saved them for his name's sake, to make his mighty power known. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert." Psalm 106:8-9
This idea is kind of cool if you go backwards through these two verses. God dried up the Red Sea so his people could walk through it as if it were a plain sandy desert. He basically trumped the natural order of things that he himself set in place to do it. I mean, God created the laws of physics that say that seas don't just evaporate at random, and determined that that sea would go right there. He instated logical natural order where actions have reactions and that sequences of things would be as they are to us. Therefore, God basically said, "I am going to defy my own created laws of the way things will be in order to save my people."
And why did he do it? The verse before says it: for his name's sake, to make his mighty power known. He made his power known by saying that his people matter and that he loves them. His goodness, faithfulness, love, and propensity to rescue his beloved people though they do mighty stupid things are what he wants to make known about himself.
"I hear your cries of distress, and I'm here to save you from your hunger and thirst. I know there's a huge sea before you that seems to block your freedom, but I will make it dry, just for you. Why? Because I love you, and when others see what I've done for you, they will know that I am good and that I am mighty to save."
At least, that's how I think this passage plays out. (I might be one of those bad commentators, haha.) No, it's not an excerpt from The Message. But I think the bible strongly supports this very small but very, very, very powerful idea: God is good, and he wants everyone to know he's good. Don't we do the same when we think we've done something good? The thing is that he is the best, and is infinitely and unstoppably good, and knows there is nothing better, so he'd be lying not to say that, and he loves us enough to want to share with us the best thing that exists.
He turns seas into deserts, and deserts into seas, according to his love. (Yeah, 107:35 is like opposites! The Israelites and people in general are so wishy-washy.) Instead of ignoring us or throwing us scraps when we are in despair, he can pull miracles, they just don't always happen as we might imagine them.
I hope you place your hope in a God who isn't bound by the laws he made because he's so crazy loving.