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Dave Brisbin

The Whole in the Part

So easy to lose the forest in the trees. Especially with scripture.

We dig deep into the weeds of each verse, pull it apart, imagine meaning that may not have anything to do with the larger passage or chapter, let alone the whole book.

A famous writer says unless you can describe the whole of your book in one sentence, you won’t write convincingly. You’ll meander, each part not contributing to the whole. The bible is actually sixty-six books, an anthology. Even harder to pull back enough to see a single line capturing its meaning—each verse revealing more of the whole. I’ve heard said that the bible is a love letter from God. A bit overly simplistic and sentimental for me, but on the right track. Maybe this: the bible traces the nature, development, and realization of our relationship with God. And if God is love, and love is identification with the beloved, then what we’re realizing is the oneness at the core of all our relationships.

The gospels are all about this oneness. Jesus is one with the Father and the Way to the Father. He calls his Way kingdom, the quality of a life lived in full presence and connection…oneness. Everything he teaches relates back to kingdom and kingdom to the oneness at the heart of relationship. He tells us not to worry—focusing on the future destroys presence. He tells us not to judge—objectifying others destroys connection.

When he tells us not to give what is holy to dogs or pearls of wisdom teaching to pigs because they will trample it or turn and tear us to pieces, it sounds condescending and has been used to exclude those not of our “faith.” But is that an interpretation consistent with the whole of Matthew’s gospel, with Jesus, the whole book? If we know the whole, we can reverse engineer the part, fine tune our interpretation of any part by never losing sight of the whole.

Jesus is one with the whole, never excludes, accepts everyone where they are, never judging where they should be. Takes the time presence requires to first establish connection before healing or instruction. If we seek kingdom first—presence and connection—the whole will always be in the part.


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