Last week, as I wrote about feminism alongside multiple other writers, I talked about giving a voice to every person. Since then, I have read several posts that gently reminded me that giving a voice to anyone is not my prerogative. God gives the voice. At our best moments, we encourage and support a fellow human whose voice remains unheard. Then we can hand them a microphone to allow their voice to take on more volume.
And in a move that at times seems brilliant and at times appears completely disastrous, God has chosen to let His people not just hand Him the microphone (as if He needed one), but actually speak on His behalf. We are charged with spreading the gospel. We are the means of spreading the message. Many of us live with the balance of the benefits God’s people have built into our lives and the painful injuries His people have inflicted on us at one time or another. No wonder many of us hesitate when people claim to speak for God. No wonder many of us long to hear His voice for ourselves.
It is out of the desire to hear Him more clearly in Scripture that the Ecclesia Bible Society began work on The Voice: Step Into the Story of Scripture. Setting the conversations in the New Testament in dialogue form, inserting into the verses phrases in italics that give contextual information that people would have understood from the text at the time of each book’s writing, and putting explanatory paragraphs in sidebars are three ways that the EBS approaches the Scripture with the hope of making the good news clearer and more accessible to today’s reader.
As I have spent time reading through the New Testament in The Voice, I find myself caught up in the interactions in a way that often I don’t when the delineation of dialogue is not as clear. The inserted phrases remind me of the unspoken, commonly understood context from which the original readers of Scripture probably operated. I feel more kinship with the idea of all the believers who have come before me, reading and re-reading these passages, letting the Bible speak to them as it would.
The Voice, for me, is a Bible of community. Sure, it’s a useful paraphrase, albeit a very close one, and a helpful tool as I choose to spend more time in Scripture. But its main draw, in my experience, is the way it pulls me into the realization that I am not alone with the Word of God. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, or, as The Voice reminds us, all those who have gone before, I feel reassured and strengthened.
Likewise, as we consider any issue, whether feminism or justice or theology, one of the most helpful stances is one of humble remembrance. Generations, and sometimes centuries’ worth of believers, have gone before us in all these things. We draw on their knowledge and experience to form our own mindsets; we naturally move in the tracks they painstakingly cleared. We can’t extricate ourselves from our own history any more than the people to whom the original letters within the New Testament could have un-remembered their own experiences.
Moving forward together, Church, won’t mean we forget our differences. It will mean that we acknowledge them and choose to travel together anyway. It will mean that some are called to be outspoken and loud, while others are called to take notice of those who wander and gently bring them home. Some of us will dig deep into knowledge to serve the body of believers. Still others will see the ones who have never spoken up, listen to them, and say to the rest of us, “Hey, everyone! Listen to this!”
As I read The Voice, my desire to be part of this ongoing story experiences renewal.
Thanks to the good people at BookSneeze, Thomas Nelson, and the Justice Conference (more about that later this week!), I have two copies of The Voice to give away, along with one size M t-shirt. See the entry form below to have a chance to enter every day until Monday, March 11. Winners will be notified by e-mail.
I also received an electronic download of The Voice for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are mine.