JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


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How are you reading the Bible?

How are you reading the Bible? Bible engagement isn’t about reading the Bible exclusively to gather facts, get guidance or learn how to be good. Satan loves it when people read the Bible for these reasons because as long as we’re reading the Bible to simply grow in knowledge, figure out what to do, or develop our morality, we’re not engaging with the Bible as we should.

God wants us to taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8a). The goal of Bible reading should be to encounter Christ Jesus and to engage with Him in ways that lead us to become increasingly more like Him.taste-and-see-that-the-lord_t_nv

John Piper, the pastor and theologian, says, “Bible reading that only collects facts, or relieves a guilty conscience, or gathers doctrinal arguments, or titillates aesthetic literary tastes, or feeds historical curiosities – this kind of Bible reading Satan is perfectly happy to leave alone. He has already won the battle.”

How are you reading the Bible? Do you read it focusing on the fact that it’s ultimately the Story about Christ Jesus and how he sacrificed His life in order to atone for your sin and reconcile you to God? If not, you’re not reading the Bible as God intended.

Here’s what Satan tries to hide from us: The overall Bible story centres on Jesus. It’s about His astronomical, unconditional, sacrificial, incomparable, transformational, and eternal love for us. A love that made the world right again by making it possible, through trust in Him, for our sin to be acquitted and our death sentence revoked. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

Christ’s love for us is why the Word we read has to be the Word we know. For this to happen we cannot rely on pastors, professors or prophets, but from spending time in the Word in order to encounter the presence of the living Word. Then, when we encounter the living Word we should ask Him to renew us through His written Word. For it’s only through encountering Christ Jesus personally and openly that our minds and hearts will be convicted and changed to live a life of love emulating Christ’s love.

So how are you reading the Bible? There are only two ways to read God’s Word. The right way and the wrong way. And the right way is to read the Word as the Word we know.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Communal Bible Engagement

Most Christians in the Western world engage with the Bible mainly by themselves. We read it privately during a “quiet time,” interpret it alone, and experience it personally in the sanctity of our home.

Which is good and fine. Or is it?

Private engagement with the Bible isn’t the biblical norm. In most instances when the Bible mentions engagement with God’s Word it’s in the context of community. God’s people experienced the Bible as “we,” more so than “me.” People would gather together, often in someone’s home, and the Bible would be read aloud while everyone listened. Then, having listened to the Word they interacted with it, processing, digesting and acting on it together.

Hearing with others, rather than reading independently, was the biblical reality because it was an oral culture with very few copies of the Scriptures available.

So how did we get to where the plural focus of Bible engagement became more singular?

With the advent of the printing press in the 15th Century, engagement with the Bible became book focused. Books facilitated the shift from the Bible mainly being heard in community to mainly being read individually.

While some things are gained through the process of change, some things are also lost. The printing press shifted Bible engagement from something that was about communal formation to something that was, according to the author Glenn Paauw, more about a “private me-and-God book.”

So why is the privatization of Bible engagement an issue?

Privatized Bible engagement is problematic because self-directed connections with the Bible often lead to self-oriented responses to the Bible. And mostly serving personal needs is the antithesis of biblical faith.

All that to simply say that communal Bible engagement needs to be renewed. So how do we do that?

Renewal begins when we recognize that the Bible is primarily addressed to the community of faith, speaks to our shared actions and beliefs, and invites the people of God to work together to make disciples of all people. Then, with this understanding as our foundation; we imagine, explore and experience the Bible together. Experiencing the Bible together can take countless forms. It may be small groups of students gathering together on campus lawns to read the Bible, or a family discussing the Scriptures during supper. Regardless of the form, the way we experience the Bible together should include listening, learning and living out the Bible as “us.” This requires humility, grace, and an openness to hear from God through what others say.

Shifting from private to communal Bible engagement isn’t easy. New postures of thinking and acting aren’t formed overnight. For communal Bible engagement to thrive, we must intentionally make it happen. And this takes fortitude, prayer, wisdom, unity and hard work.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5