Just Read The Bible
I think we should just pick up the bible and read. Don’t worry about reading it the right way or coming away with an orthodox belief. Don’t worry about not reading it the way some religion would have you read. Read for the story, poetry, teachings, and parables. This book we call holy writ will change your life, will impact every part of life.
Read, contemplate what you read, reflect on what the text might be trying to say to you and pray about it. Wrestle with the text, this is an ancient form of prayer that Jewish people call midrash. They gathered around took a text and wrestled with it. You can do this alone, but it’s best to have a group of people along side for the journey.
First Just read.
What I am advancing here is subversive. To read the bible and let it work on you goes against what the world would have you do. The world would tell you it’s all myth (they usually mean myth in the negative sense, a made up story) and that none of it true or it was translated wrong or it’s rubbish. The world wants you to dismiss the bible. It’s rebellious and seditious to the world systems of power, greed, and individualism to simply read, study, and apply the bible to our life. I will not win friends by studying the bible. I’m more apt to wrinkle a few feathers by reading, studying, and applying the bible to my life and telling others what I find. It will unsettle my life. It will transform my life.
When Luke 6 says “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This is telling the reader to do these things not to force them on others. The bible is full if injunctions on how to live–do this (love, encourage, show compassion, hope); don’t do this (hate, fear, despair, be selfish). The spiritually alive understand life is quite miraculous enough and doesn’t need supplementing from the supernatural. It’s true “faith moves mountains” but it uses a shovel just like the rest of us. When you read the bible let it speak to you, don’t use it to lay burdens on others. Let it be as mirror for you and not a rule book to others.
Immanuel Kant said, “I believe that the existence of the Bible is the greatest benefit to the human race. Any attempt to belittle it, I believe, is a crime against humanity.”
Patrick Henry says the bible is “A Book worth More than all the other Books that were ever printed.”
Before you pick up the bible to seriously read and study it ask yourself if you are ready to be changed, to come face to face with God, Jesus, the apostles, prophets, and the kingdom of God. It will not leave you unscathed. It will transform and unsettle you. Life will not be the same. Mine is not. Yet, I keep studying and wresting with the text and I know I will do this for my entire life.
No preaching brought me to faith in Jesus Christ. No intellectual argument or human effort brought me to faith in Jesus Christ. I am a Christian because of the bible, because God spoke through the bible to me. It was the Gospel of John, John 10:10 to be exact. I wasn’t expecting to say yes to God just because I read a few words. I wasn’t expecting to surrender my wants for the way of Jesus. I wasn’t ready for what that saying yes would entail, what surrendering to Jesus would demand. I am still feeling its ramifications. I continue to read and study the bible and continue to say yes.
Pastor Brux Cavey calls the bible the holy hand grenade. “…the bible, a document designed to blow up religion from the inside out, with the teachings of Jesus functioning as the pin. So, when you pick up a bible, consider that you are holding an explosive device. Between the opening and ending chapters of the bible, a subplot unfolds of how poorly people have responded to the rules and routines of religion. Yet ultimately, every page points toward or reflects back on the coming of Jesus, the one who intends to put an end to religion and to point a way back to the ideal of the garden. That is in brief, why I see the bible as a holy hand grenade, for it invites us into a way of living that makes religion superfluous, exploding its monopoly on God. ”
Every other Thursday I go my church to read, study, discuss, and apply the bible together with a group of men. Thursday night bible study is a time to step out of the world for just a moment and share my faith with other men and listen to their stories. This group has helped me to challenge my false assumptions, confront myself, and drop wrong beliefs. These men have accepted me for who I am and not ounce made me feel like I didn’t belong. They never ask that I believe what they do or how they do. They’ve shown me a fuller flesh on the gospel way of what it means to follow Jesus today and what saying yes to God really means.
I fully commit myself to reading, studying and applying the bible to my life in a real way. I intend to follow Jesus in a real way. I pray that God will use the bible to guide my life in healthy and loving ways and that through me many will be blessed. I want God to use me to proclaim Jesus and the Kingdom of God. I want to learn what it means to be an unapologetic, humble, yet crazy-liberal Jesus follower.
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