Contextualization and the Bible

Scrollb Contextualization – "dynamic process of seeing the message of the Gospel interact with the specificity of the human situation". 

I attempted to illustrate to a group of friends the other night how important it is to know the language of the "land"/culture as we attempt to interpret the bible.  In other words, in order to fully understand what the original writer meant, we have to have a keen awareness of the people, traditions, habits, and lifestyle issues of the audience to which it was written.  It is also the same for those of us who attempt to immerse ourselves in the lives of real people with the presence of the Kingdom of God in/through us. 

We need to interact with culture NOT as an outsider (i.e. judge, critic, finger-pointer) but as one who embodies (incarnates) the Gospel in the midst of reality.  Any other strategy is actually contrary to the way that God has historically and consistently acted in love…when God's power, presence and love is activated in world, it is incarnated and contextualized.  You can see it and experience it with your senses because it is not overly "spiritualized" or mysterious.  As the Apostle Paul says, "God has revealed the mysteries of His will in and through the action/person of Jesus Christ…He will of uniting everyone in Him and with each other is made perfectly clear for all to see, behold and grasp" (see Ephesians 1).  That's the amazing aspect of living and embracing God's mission – to share with someone about the invisible God, we make the Kingdom plainly visible and real in and through our lives, words, and actions.  Contextualization…big word but an important one to understand and to live. 

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