Most people are bothered by
those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that
bother me are those I do understand. – Mark Twain

When I went to high school, teachers could still give us corporal
punishment. With a rod. The maximum was six shots. Some schoolboys would take
the inner tubing of a bicycle tire, cut a circle out of it, punch some holes in
the tube and place it inside their underwear.

This was called ‘n “gatvel” in Afrikaans (a literal translation will be
a ‘butt skin’). The holes would muffle the sound of the tubing (but woe to
those who were caught).

This is an image Kierkegaard once used. He said that all of us have
become accustomed to facing the reality of the Word with a “but skin.” Here’s
how he phrased it.

Can't we be honest for once! We have
become such experts at cunningly shoving one layer after another, one
interpretation after another, between the Word and our lives (like a boy
putting padding under his pants when he is about to get a spanking). We then
allow this preoccupation to swell to such profundity that we never come to look
at our lives in the mirror. All this interpreting and re-interpreting is but a
defense against God's Word. It is all too easy to understand the requirements
contained in God's Word ("Give all your goods to the poor." "If
anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the left." "Count it
sheer joy when you meet various temptations" etc.). The most ignorant, poor
creature cannot honestly deny being able to understand God's requirements. But
it is tough on the flesh to will to understand it and to then act accordingly.
Herein lies the problem. It is not a question of interpretation, but action. (Provocations p.84)

What
would it mean for me to read Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler in
the first person?  What would it
look like if I remove the “padding under my pants” when reading Jesus’
interaction with this man?  For the
next few weeks I will attempt to do this. 
Some of it will become public on this blog.  Other parts will be prayed through in private and shared
with other South African friends who can help me see the padding in my pants.