Approaching Scripture

Did you ever hear, “I’m hungry for a good bible study!”

Or, “I just want to do a bible study. It’s been so long.”

Or maybe, “Does your church do real bible study? I’m just not getting fed in our Sunday School class!”

Then again from some church-goers (and even Sunday School attendees) you will never hear such.

Why? What brings on these kinds of questions or even the lack of these questions?

I want to offer some thoughts today about such questions and follow up over the next few weeks thinking about ways we come to Scripture.

First, these questions are provoked at least in part by a person’s getting the idea from one place or another that Scripture is important for the life-style of a Christ-follower. Does that make some sense to you?

Of course the idea that Scripture is important might be so second nature to you and those you associate with that it is not a subject you give much thought to. After all, “Doesn’t everyone know how important it is to read the Bible?”

It was part of the church culture I grew up in.

From preachers, Sunday School teachers, and maybe family also, we got the message to “read the Bible every day.” It seemed every bit of literature we got at Sunday School not only had a “lesson” for Sunday, but a list of Bible verses for “Daily Bible Reading.” Even the small envelopes we put our offering in had a place to mark if you did your daily Bible readings, and you knew it was something you were supposed to do.

So our churches told us Bible reading was a big thing that needed to get done.

And so maybe we did it to “get it done” and maybe even “get points” for being a good Christian.

But, as we read the Bible, and enjoyed the small bites of the Bible we got in “Bible stories” at Sunday School, maybe we saw the Bible was much larger than what we heard about Sunday after Sunday.

That brings us to our second factor that lies behind the questions we started with, “What more is there to the Bible.” Is it more than the few “stories” we hear week after week?

Should I just do my “daily Bible reading” and listen to my church teachers and preachers tell me what the Bible is about or is there a “way” for me to understand more about it?

I have the impression some folk are satisfied with “being told” what the Bible says, but others asking the questions we posed earlier have probably moved from being passive consumers of the Bible to wanting more.

Third, those growing up in a church culture like the one I did (or similar) may have learned that the Bible is the “only” way we hear about God, or from God. To put it theologically, if you will, there is no revelation of God outside the pages of the Bible, or what there might be of “natural revelation” is so limited as to offer only the smallest glimpse of the possibility of God and certainly no path to salvation. Was that too much theology for today?

In any case, if something in your nature has led you to want to know more about God, or to experience God’s presence more directly and the Bible is the place (the only place?) that can begin to happen for you, then Bible study becomes something very important.

One more thing. Maybe you’ve heard of some people who “do Bible study” at their churches that have homework that goes with it, as well as reading a study book that provokes questions rather than just offer pre-packaged answers. So the fourth thing behind the questions we started with is having heard of others who invest time and energy in not just reading the words on the pages of a Bible but have moved from being passive readers of the Bible and passive members of a church class to being actively engaged with the Bible, and dare I add, with the Spirit we from time to time encounter in our reading of the Bible.

Maybe I have gone on too long, but I start here to call our attention to the growing desire of some to find ways to plumb the depths they suspect Scripture holds and find ways that depth can impact and change their lives. And even more importantly, see how that depth leads to an experience of God’s presence in their lives. Could that be possible?

Over the next several weeks, I want to offer a number of ways some have found to help them enter into the depths that await those willing to make the investment.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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