I stopped reading Romans and I’m happy with that decision. Don’t get me wrong. I love Romans. I’ll read Romans again. But after a couple of months of pain-staking verse by verse exegesis, a friend told me to take a break and read a Gospel. I took her advice and started reading John, and it’s great.
Learning to Spot
I just started distance swimming in the ocean. As someone who had only splashed around in the ocean before and left the legit swimming for the clear, calm, well-demarcated swimming pools, it is terrifying. Waves are unpredictable. Currents are strong. Early on in my swimming career, I’d swim hard only to look up and not be able to tell if I’d made any progress at all. I had to learn how to “spot,” to look up during my swim, find the buoy I was swimming toward, and correct my course. It made my effort more effective.
God uses the analogy of the ocean to describe our lives. Ephesians 4.14 says we can be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” Life is unpredictable. Currents of culture and the heart can easily try to pull us away from Jesus. And the Christian life can feel like swimming without spotting – a lot of effort, but I’m not really sure if I’d made any progress.
We need to spot while we swim. Paul makes the same point in Ephesians 4. He writes “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the status of the fullness of Christ.” We combat the waves and currents of doctrine by growing in knowledge of Christ.
It’s hard to spot correctly. When I was trying to learn, more often than not, I got a mouth full of water and didn’t even catch sight of my spot.
Reading John has felt like spotting during a swim. By looking a Jesus I’ve been reminded of where I’m going; what the point of all this effort is anyway. I’m not saying you can’t see Jesus in every book of the Bible. I firmly believe that you can. But if you can, read a Gospel.