I do not believe the Bible was intended to be interpreted literally. If the authority does not lie in the actual, literal words where does it lie? For me scripture is authoritative when I place myself into the narrative. When I see my failings, my sin in the story of Moses, or Jonah, or Paul that is precisely when I am ready to hear the word of God speak to my heart.
Yesterday as I watched the horrific scenes of tornado destruction in Oklahoma I began to place myself in the shoes of those who endured the violence. The outcome of such an exercise? Compassion. I searched the UMCOR site to see if they had posted a number for donations, but it had only been an hour since the tornado left the ground.
I am quite sure that my heart cannot make room for all the suffering people in our world. In our world of instant news technology we can be overwhelmed with human need. Do you know why some tragic events touch your heart while others to not? When our world view enlarges we often feel some of the hurt of people wherever it happens on our planet. God gives us more of God's heart to share the pain of others. Perhaps we think it is up to us. Our hearts are simply not big enough to take in all the hurts of the world. During such moments of human suffering wherever it happens on a large or small scale our role is to imagine the heart of God opening to others and to be the hands and feet of God.
If you feel compassion for the people of Moore, Oklahoma, and want to do something concrete to help please consider a donation to UMCOR at http://www.umcor.org/ The number is 901679.