Story tellingNo. 1 son (16 going on 17) wants two things for Christmas. First he wants a Discman, a portable CD player. Nothing special here. Every teenager functions with a constant soundtrack.

His second request blew me away. He wants me to do bible study with him. He made it clear that he didn’t want lectures. (What teenager wants to be lectured to?) He wants to study the bible with his dad. He said a few of his friends might be interested too.

Why is this request special? Apart from the fact that he is a teenager, and that one does not normally associate someone of that age with bible study? In the last 10 years, no. 1 son has seen enough, to be disenchanted with life, God’s people, dad, God’s Word, dad. Yet here he is asking for bible studies. It really is all of grace.

I am particularly interested in the possibility of doing bible study with him because I have long believed that bible study ought to be done in the context of life. Most of us are familiar with 2 Timothy 3:16, ?All Scripture is inspired by God?? All card-carrying evangelicals will defend the divine inspiration of the bible at the drop of a hat. But the same chapter of 2 Timothy also contains Paul?s exhortations to Timothy as to how he should treat divine Scriptures:

?But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.? 2Timothy 3:14 NLT

And who taught Timothy the Scriptures? Why mum and grandma!

?I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois.? 2 Timothy 1:5

It wasn?t enough for Timothy to know the Word. He had to be faithful to it. And he could stake his life on the Word because of the faithfulness of those who had taught him the word, his mother and grandmother.

I know I am stereotyping here and am open to be corrected. But by and large women are less likely to study and teach Scriptures as some academic exercise, divorced from life. Ma and grandma knew the price of cabbage, the problems with uncle Malachi — and how to relate Scripture to the concrete realities of daily life. Ma and grandma were only doing what God had commanded mums and dads way back in the book of Deuteronomy.

“And you must commit yourself wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.” Deuteronomy 6: 6,7

When I look at Christian groups today, I am struck by two major failures where the Word is concerned. First, there are many groups who do not emphasize the Word at all. Instead they define spirituality by activism and experience. Then there are those groups who do take the study of the Word seriously, but who do not attempt to apply the Word to the serious issues of the day.

It is perhaps the second failure that concerns me more. If we do not seek to connect the Word to the issues of the day, then Christian and non-Christian alike will think that God is silent. And a silent God is irrelelevant, no matter what dogma we may hold as to the inerrancy of His Word.

This breaks my heart because as we come to the end of 2002, it has never been clearer that the world is looking for authoritative answers to the many issues thrown up by a rapidly changing world.

I was having supper with some friends a few nights ago. One of them was a doctoral student in genetic engineering (GE). She asked me what should be a Christian response to genetic engineering. I felt grossly inadequate to answer. I asked her some information about the scientific issues involved in GE. Then I tried to extrapolate from the biblical data to her concerns. I felt I was in the kiddy pool of the discussion. We badly need teams of Christians from various disciplines to wrestle with the issues of the day, and they are many—GE, accounting practices, just war, globalisation and the poor—to name a few.

It would be so much safer to stick to our knowledge of Pauline theology, or the exegesis of the Ten Commandments etc. without taking the risk of applying them to the questions of the day. But if we play it safe, we must not be surprised that Christians remain babies in the faith. And that the world does not take the church or her God, seriously.

So I look forward to the bible studies I plan to do with my son and his friends. It is my hope that we will be able to grow in our understanding of the Word and how in impacts our lives and the world. It is scary of course because my boy knows his dad?s inconsistencies. He is a smart kid. I won?t be able to pull the wool over his eyes. And the Word is no respecter of persons. It will stand in judgment over all of us. But it will also build us up.

Pray for us.