An Old Book, a Favorite Author, and Two Timeless Truths
Two historic events occurred this week. One was the sale of the most expensive book ever sold at auction. It was the oldest, almost complete, copy of an ancient Hebrew Manuscript called “Codex Sassoon.” It sold for an astounding $33.5 million. As a book lover, and one who has benefited greatly from the Old Testament, it was thrilling to see such value placed on the book. Of course we know it’s not the paper and ink that holds the real value, but the very words of God that work in our hearts to renew and shape our minds.
The other event was the passing of Tim Keller, a man God has used to also shape me spiritually. His writings and preaching have had a huge influence on my life. His book on marriage (with wife Kathy) is one of the best I’ve read. His paradigm breaking Prodigal God opened my eyes to another view on the classic Bible story. His Reason for God is somewhat of a modern day Mere Christianity, and written to open the mind of a non-believer to the possibility that there could be a God. Watching him so winsomely and graciously present to a crowd at Google made me want to read it again. Then there is his lesser known book, Center Church, which talks mostly about church planting. Within it though there is a chapter on contextualization that helped me see how our pre-understandings of Scripture are heavily shaped by our culture. It helped me see my own biases when trying to understand and apply the Bible.
Lastly I’ll mention, if you’re looking for a good complement to our study of the book of John, check out his collection of writings on the book of Mark, called Jesus the King. Every one of his books are worth reading, and I hope to read all of his two-dozen plus books someday. His legacy has been enormous and it’s sad that he passed at seventy-two, an age when he could have still written a dozen more books in the coming years.
His life is especially refreshing for me as a pastor, given that in our age of celebrity pastors, Keller seemed to not care about or even desire the spotlight. In fact, as Colin Hansen wrote in his recent biography on Keller, a number of celebrities specifically sought out his church knowing he wouldn’t “exploit their fame to garner attention.” When asked how he avoided the scandals plaguing some mega church pastors, Keller simply said, “I think the key is a commitment to personal prayer.” That was so important for me to hear.
These historic events remind me of two important realities:
First: Though it’s long enough, life is still relatively short. We would have liked to have had him longer, but Tim Keller accomplished all that God had for him. He had a huge influence on our world. There is only one Tim Keller, and yet God also has a specific purpose for each and every one of us. Depending on our gifts and abilities, He will use us in different ways.
Second: Tim Keller, passed away, just as the rest of us will, but God’s Word does not pass away. Though it has survived for over a thousand years, there will still come a day when the parchment of the Codex Sassoon will crumble and fade, but God’s Word will not pass away. God’s Word is living and active in our lives (Hebrew 4:12). That’s why I talked Sunday about the importance of being in God’s word, that’s how we hear His voice, by reading and studying and meditating on His Word, and by memorizing His Word.
An Increasing Hunger for God’s Word
My prayer for all of us at Valley View this week is that our hunger for God’s Word would be increasing every day. That we would be known as people who love God, love knowing His Word, and be known as those who then pour out that love into the lives of others. May God help each of us to be faithful with whatever gifts and talents he has given us, for the time he has given us, to reach Valley Station, PRP, and all of Southwest Louisville!