My friend Kathy is the doyenne of the list. She is the office manager of her husband’s busy dental practice and the mother of five busy boys. Sometimes Kathy’s “Do List” staggers on and on. Her list helps keeps what is important before her, enabling her to prioritize her work. Lists promote a peculiar kind of awareness, so I incorporate list-making in my Bible study preparation.
Currently I’m studying I John. John, bless his heart, is a circular thinker. His writing runs in thought provoking circles, hitting a topic from various angles. A study of I John doesn’t lend itself well to linear exploration or outline. I picture the structure of this book more like a group of hula hoops laid out in irregular overlapping circles. So, I’m tracing themes and capturing their content in lists.
For example, scattered through the epistle, John discloses why he is writing to them. As I read through I John, I list those reasons. This gave me concisely gathered content to ponder. Then I created another list: John wrote this letter that our joy might be full (see I John 1:4). With this in mind, I read through I John noting the truths that should bring great joy to me. This list is rich fare for meditation and praise.
Everywhere in the book I see the potential for valuable list making:
John writes to give believers assurance of their salvation and blessed privilege in Christ.
Create a list of how I can know that I belong to Jesus?
How should I think about sin as a believer?
What does John say about me as a child of God?
John is known as the apostle of love. I’ll compile a list “Love list.”
What topics in I john lend themselves to contrast lists? Light and darkness; truth and lie; etc?
Maybe making lists can enrich your Bible study, too. Live the mystery.