For teachers, the charge to limit ourselves to what is “completely true” should make us tremble. Preparing a message like that takes work in three dimensions. For our words to be true in the truest sense, to come across in 3-D, they have to reflect all three:
- Are my words true to the words of Scripture?
It takes effort and discipline to accurately interpret the text. If I’m going to be true to Scripture I can’t read it with my message or my opinions already set and just use its words to prove or illustrate what I already had in mind. I have to enter the thought-world of Scripture and let its words shape my understanding.
- Are my words true to the perspective of Scripture on life here and now?
Interpretation takes hard work with the text, but it’s not a matter of just analyzing the text, understanding its setting and original message, and stopping there. The second dimension of truth is bearing the ancient message into the realities of life here and now. Biblical truth is never abstract.
- Are my words true to the way I actually live?
But even if my message accurately captures the original message and makes it up-to-date and relevant, I have to ask if I believe it enough to be doing it myself. If I preach something I don’t do, it’s not completely true. I shouldn’t allow it to “pass my lips” until I’ve taken it to heart myself.
When I take this kind of responsibility for my message it has a chance to pop off the bema in 3-D, surround the listeners with its reality, and draw them in.
I’ve applied these three dimensions to those who teach scripture, but God tells all Israel,
“Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” (Deut. 6:6–7).
And Yeshua assigns every one of his followers to be a witness and bear his word. So the challenge of portraying truth in 3-D applies to us all.