Tightly Woven? On Being Biblical

wovenfabric2Being biblical is like being a woven fabric.  Woven fabric can be very strong, or it can be flimsy.  Two sets of threads are woven together at right angles.  When the warp and the weft threads are both numerous and tight, then the fabric will have real strength.

Warp – imagine this to be your understanding of the Bible, book by book.  Each book is like a thread, and the more you know it the stronger the thread.  Know the structure, the flow, the situation, the purpose, the details that make it what it is.  To be biblical we need to be people who get to know Bible books.  (In fact, each Bible book turns out to be like woven fabric too, but pushing the analogy to woven fabric made up of the threads of woven fabric might become too complex for non-weavers like me!)

Weft – imagine this to be your understanding of the Bible, theme by theme.  Great themes are like a thread, and the more you know them, them the stronger the thread.  Know the themes and where they touch down in the flow of the canon.  Some touch down only periodically (think Melchizedek – Gen.14, Psa.110, Hebrews 7), while others are woven throughout almost every page (think sin and its effects, for instance).

Too many people in our churches have great gaps in the fabric of their biblical awareness.  Great blocks of books are untouched.  Thematic threads are unknown.  Sadly, too many preachers have bare patches and weak weaving in their biblical knowledge.  A collection of proof texts and favourite passages, combined with one or two key themes, will not make for biblical preaching, or even biblical living.

Three quick suggestions:

1. Be sure to be reading the whole Bible – sweep through it to get the big picture.  You will find that reading good chunks will captivate in a way that close study alone never can.  You will start to see how the books flow and how they flow together.  You will start to become familiar with themes that may have remained hidden in close study alone.

2. Be sure to study the Bible book by book – take a book and let it get to grips with you.  The building blocks, or perhaps, the warp threads of our biblical understanding has to be book by book for there to be any substance and strength to our being biblical as believers and then as preachers.  Get to know the fabric of each book: the sections as they build, the themes as they weave through.

3. Be sure to enjoy the biblical themes – start to identify and follow the themes of Scripture.  Some have done this exclusively, following threads without awareness of context.  This is a weak approach.  Others have ignored the themes and only focused on one passage at a time.  This also is weak.  We need both.  Start to enjoy the promise theme starting in Genesis 3:15 – I loved tracing the theme of both the promise and the presence of the Promiser in Pleased to Dwell.  What about holiness, or God’s heart, or themes of sonship, of marriage, of divine surprise, etc.?

Pray and ask God to show you where the fabric of your biblical awareness is threadbare.  Read and weave and enjoy.

5 thoughts on “Tightly Woven? On Being Biblical

  1. Thank you, this is a very helpful analogy.

    I’d like to invite you, if you’re interested, to blog about this problem, which I’ve been thinking through in recent weeks. It’s well established that people generally learn better in interactive settings (such as modern classrooms, or tutorials at university level) than from lectures. Yet every Sunday our preaching is essentially a lecture — 20-40 minutes of one person speaking (often without even visual aids to break things up) and everyone else listening. This is true even in churches where the great majority of the congregation don’t really have the aptitude for that style of learning.

    What can we do about that?

    • Mike – I would suggest that true preaching should be quite different to a lecture. A lecture is about information transfer. Preaching is about an encounter. Sadly too much preaching is just a lecture. We need to think about how to make the preaching a genuine encounter with God, not just a more engaging presentation of information.

  2. My mother had me at the sewing machine by the time I was in 8th grade. I watched her sew and begged her to teach me and let me sew too. My Dad bought me my first sewing machine and set it up in the same room with my Mother’s. Together we made the quilts for our beds. She cut out the blocks and together we sewed blocks together and then pieced together the facing or top, the filling and the backing or underside. From there I learned how to take hand-me-down faded dresses, and from the top I made the waistband, for “new skirts” and then dyed them for a new fresh look, and wore these to school. After I was married, I made curtains for our house, and as we had three girls, when they were little, I sewed and made practically everything they wore. So I can relate to this article. I keep notes in a Bible study notebook of how to study the Bible. I first began studying “how to study the Bible” with Kay Arthur’s materials. I have read through the Bible numerous times, but I love studying the Bible. And I do pray about and before studying the Bible. When I study, I get into the Hebrew and Greek words for the key words, the names of God, and even the names of Bible characters, and you discover riches that most commentaries and devotional books don’t touch. That’s when you realize no man could have authored the Bible. It is from a divine being, who created from nothing those clouds and the sky above our heads, the ground that we walk on, and all the beauty of creation that surrounds us and is before our eyes. And even man is wondrously made, and we have the breath of life because of him. What a great God we serve!!! I appreciate your article. Thank you.

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