The Rev. Matt Sturtevant, First Baptist Church of Lawrence, 1330 Kasold Drive:
My favorite book of the Bible? Come on! I’m a Baptist preacher. It’s like the potato chips — I can’t pick just one!
There are so many life-changing options. The blunt honesty of the stories of the Pentateuch. The bedrock theology of the Gospels. The missional power of Acts.
I guess if I were pinned down for an answer, I would have to pick First Corinthians. This book combines all of the above: honest stories of the community of faith and their real-life problems, the service and sacrifice of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to equip us beyond what we can do alone.
Paul’s relationships with the Corinthians were deep and abiding, so the honesty with which he writes this letter to his friends is refreshing. He explains how to handle arguments between believers, how God created each of them with special gifts, and how to assure that community is welcoming and equitable for all.
This is Paul at his greatest — caring but firm, practical but spiritual, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit but expectant of the believer’s responsibility. Every chapter is a new pearl of wisdom — from the controversy of Chapter 10 about whether or not believers should eat meat sacrificed to idols (it’s really more about legalism and sharing your faith than menu options) to the beautiful poetry of chapter 13 (the “love passage” that you probably heard at the last wedding you attended).
First Corinthians is relevant because it was relevant. It proves that the faith is practical, dynamic and alive, even in the midst of the ambiguities of life. The practical words of a tentmaker from 2,000 years ago teach us how to be community, live in faith, and worship Christ. If I had to just pick one, it would be a good choice.
— Send email to Matt Sturtevant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Glenn Fletcher, pastor of student ministries, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
My answer to this question may be disturbing for some, and yet for others it may be just the ray of hope they need.
The world we live in today seems full of disappointment and troubling news ... scandals and break-ups, staggering unemployment, nations on brink of financial collapse, wars and fighting, disasters and all sorts of horrible diseases.
Day in and day out, we seem to be bombarded by even more bad news. We become overwhelmed and numb, powerless and helpless. We watch what seems all hope fade into the blackened depressive abyss to be consumed by it. And for those hit the hardest in these times, the whole world seems to say, “You failure! Why don’t you just give up?”
It is in those broken, crushed and humiliating moments that the Book of Job sings to me.
See, Job goes from having it all together: good health, unmatched fame and fortune, a beautiful wife and loving family, to losing everything in a single day. Hour by hour more and more bad news befalls Job. He loses all his possessions, all his investments came crashing down, his kids are killed in a gruesome accident, and his body is ravaged with a horrid disease. His friends can’t understand what he’s going through and his own wife’s advice was for him to “curse God and die.”
Where is the hope? Where is the justice? What did Job do to deserve such misery?
But in the midst of all the muck and mire, it was there that the Creator God demonstrated his awesome might, his unfailing love, his great mercy and unerring justice for Job. And I am comforted knowing that God will do the same for me in my darkest moments.
— Send email to Glenn Fletcher at email@example.com.