Rethinking Scripture is All About Context

What is Rethinking Scripture?

It’s about a “transition” – movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, to another


The longer I live… the more I realize that everything has a context.

For a large portion of my adult life I helped people buy and sell real estate. I spent part of that time working for a large real estate brokerage in my hometown, but I also owned my own small company for about nine years. There’s one saying in real estate with which most everyone is familiar. It’s a saying that new Realtors learn early… and use often.

“The three most important things

to consider when purchasing a piece of real estate are…

location, location, and location.”

You’ve probably heard this adage before. It’s nothing new, but it is an important truth. It suggests that a property’s location will help decide its value more than any other individual feature the property has.

As an agent, I would often take clients out to view five or six homes they had picked out of a larger list. After looking at each property, I’d ask them to run down a list of the things they liked, and the things they disliked about the house. If you’ve bought a house, you’ve probably done something very similar. It’s a mental way to summarize the viewing of a house before moving on to the next one. I found that my clients would often focus on the interior features of the house more than the exterior features. She liked “how much light there was in the living room”, or “the way the kitchen was laid out”. He liked “the third-bay in the garage”, or “the location of the study”.

While my clients reviewed each property, I would always make sure they took time to notice the site… because each house always existed within the context of a larger neighborhood. No matter how much a client connected with the interior of the home… I always tried to make sure they looked at those features on the outside that would also be important to them.

We would go outside and look at the lay of the land. Was it flat, hilly, was the slope of any concern to them? Do you like the direction the house is facing (the south side will always get the brunt of the weather)? Will the driveway allow for a basketball hoop?

I would encourage them to look at the surrounding neighbors’ houses. Does it look like they keep up their properties? Take a quick glance up and down the street. Is there a park nearby in which children can play? Where is the nearest store? How close are the schools? Is there a bus stop nearby? If there was a neighbor out working in their yard, sometimes I would even encourage the clients to walk over and ask the neighbor a few questions about the neighborhood.

This survey of the neighborhood was always a very important process for the client. Sometimes they fell in love with the inside of the house, but later figured out that the neighborhood wasn’t a good fit for their family. I had more than one client tell me, “I love this house, I just wish I could pick it up and take it to the neighborhood in which I live. That would be perfect.”

The problem, of course, is that we can’t just pick up houses and move them wherever we would like. The builder got to decide the location, he set the foundation, and built the house. For all practical purposes, that’s where it is… and that’s where the thing is going to stay!

I eventually left the field of real estate and began working as a pastor. I’m surprised how many of the concepts I learned in my former field are applicable within the walls of the church. I’ve been reminded how important “location, location, location” is. It now factors into the way I teach the Bible. In the same way that a house always exists within the context of a larger neighborhood, the Bible exists within a larger context. Every piece of scripture has a neighborhood.

I think when someone studies the Bible, the three most important things are context, context, and context. Unfortunately, my clients all too often focus on the interior of any given passage, and don’t spend near enough time checking out the surrounding neighborhood.

Rethinking Scripture is all about exploring scriptures contextual neighborhood. I invite you walk the neighborhood with me.

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