I want to spend the next few days talking about our approach to Scripture. Scripture has the capacity to become for us a holy ground on which we actually meet with God. Yet, for most of us, in order to experience this, we will have to change our perspective or approach to it. Typically, we have viewed scripture reading like just another thing to check off our “If you were really a good Christian” check list. Most often it’s associated with guilt because so many of us are so inconsistent at doing it. We figure, “If that’s what was necessary to prove my devotion to Christ”…(sigh).
For many years I followed a printed reading schedule, which often covered reading the Bible in a year. Over the years this kind of generic format was helpful but often I felt guilt-ridden if I missed a day. Then I had to “make up” the days before I could catch up to the current day’s reading. The motivation simply became “staying on task.” In my frantic efforts to “get it done”, I missed the opportunity to listen…to linger because I had so much catching up to do. What God wanted to say to my heart through his Word was pushed aside in tenacious achieving and ill-conceived expectations.
Too often we, too, have approached God’s Word as simply a resource for teaching or theology, or as an inspirational handbook for living, or as a mine of proof-texts for perfecting our dogmas, rather than the revelation of Christ to our hearts. While there should always be room for serious, historical-critical study of scripture that does not bypass critical scholarship, the goal of scripture reading is to internalize and personalize the Scripture so that its truth can affect how we think, our attitudes, and how we live, our actions. If we don’t we will miss what God is saying to us, saying about himself, and His Word will have no meaningful connection to our lives.
I believe this could explain why so many people can read God’s Word and remain relatively unchanged by it. It has been reduced to something that is studied, memorized and debated but not heard personally. We must recognize that mere information never brings transformation. When it is reduced to something that is studied, memorized and used as a “spiritual instruction manual so we can make some changes in our spiritual life at points where it is not ‘working properly’” the danger is that it no longer becomes a means by which we listen to God.
We need to learn to come to the Bible in order to meet Jesus.
Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”
So true! So true! One can read the Bible for years, or even go to seminary to study the Bible, but never gets changed. There is a big difference between reading with the heart and reading with the head. We study the Bible (as Christians call “Bible Study”) but we must let the Bible (as God’s Word) study us and change us.
Thank you, Gail, for this great post.
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