The King’s Academy seeks to provide spiritual growth and academic empowerment for promising students. Our students come from around the globe—an average of 17 countries are represented—and they leave profoundly changed by the welcoming culture that we call “family.”
Information of Interest
Reading the Bible – Expanding Our Perspectives
- October 14, 2014
- Posted by: Jerry Atchley
- Category: Spiritual Life
— Thank you to TKA faculty member Emily Carlisle for sharing this helpful information that she presented to TKA staff and faculty during a morning prayer meeting.
We all have our favorite Bible verses. Ones that leap off the pages of the Bible and stick in our memories because they’ve truly resonated with us. Perhaps they provide a comfort or a promise or a needed strength to us. I want to focus on some verses that really never were my favorite verses, though. In fact, they seemed largely irrelevant and eerily cultish instead.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?'”–Matthew 16:24-26
These are key verses in the Gospel. Peter has just proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, and Jesus foreshadows his crucifixion to his disciples. Jesus’ act of sacrificial love is the central component of our Scriptures, but His call to take up my own cross didn’t seem relevant to me. I’m a literature teacher at The King’s Academy–my likelihood of martyrdom is slim at best. What does losing myself for Jesus’ sake look like, and what does Jesus want from me?
Actually, my job as a literature teacher is what finally made these verses actually mean something to me. As I teach the great classics: Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, I hear all too often the complaint: “Why do I have read a story that is hundreds of years old? How will I ever use this? These stories aren’t even real.”
I’ve tried to explain that good literature attempts to answer questions about what it means to be human. We read because we seek an enlargement of our being. In reading, we have to momentarily give up our subjectivity. We become objects caught up in a new web of subjectivity. We give ourselves up to another’s perspective because we are curious, bored, or maybe aware of our own limitedness.
Reading captures the same paradox explored in Matthew–you have to lose your life to find it. Reading is both a momentary obliteration of self and an expansion of being. C.S. Lewis finds this same connection in his 1961 book An Experiment in Criticism:
“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality…In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”
I still don’t believe I’ll experience literal martydom in my life, but these verses finally mean something to me now. I think that they speak to a recurring motif in Scriptures of community: husband and wife, Christ and his Bride, the three persons of God. We lose part of ourselves every time we love, every time we serve, every time we give. But in losing part of our subjecthood, we gain so much more. Our sense of self expands to a much larger, stronger community that we would never experience if we limited ourseslves to a singular set of eyes, a singular story.