In 1992, I attended a two week graduate course on Relief and Development at EasternMennonite Seminary in the USA. During the opening session the professor asked the group of fifty or so students to describe how they pictured God. With few exceptions, God was portrayed as a middle aged white suburban male (the primary demographic of the students). I learnt that most of us think God is like us.
What we do with God, we do with the Bible. Our tendency is to project onto the Bible what we want to see or hear. Instead of being caught up in the Bible’s story, we harness the Bible to our story. It’s a predisposition; our natural inclination is ego-centric and our bent is to manipulate the Bible to our own ends. Simply stated, we read the Bible to get what we want out of it.
So how do we read the Bible for what it truly is and not for what we want to make it? By bringing three “friends” to the table:
- The Holy Spirit . . . ask Him to help you understand what you’re reading
- Bible commentaries and guides . . . use them to mine the collected wisdom of the church
- Mature Christians . . . learn from pastors, teachers and people who are wise in the Word
Scott McKnight in his excellent book, The Blue Parakeet, would add that if we are to read the Bible in a way that is renewing and ever renewing, then we should also read the Bible as story, learn to listen to and for God in the Bible (cf. Matthew 7:24-27), and discern how best to live out the Gospel (cf. Colossians 1:9-10).
© Copyright Scripture Union Canada, 2012