JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


Leave a comment

Random Thoughts

I’m often thinking about Bible engagement, and while some of the things I’m thinking about become the basis of the articles I write, there are random thoughts that make it no further than a comment on a sticky note, musings jotted down on a used envelope, or as recently happened on a flight home from Calgary, several sentences scribbled on a napkin.

So mainly because I’m reluctant to throw out the napkin and waste some thinking, here are some random thoughts about Bible engagement:

A rejection of Christ and His Story results in intellectual and moral anarchy. Without Christ people are left trying to find meaning in racial, ethnic, or sexual identities – or in living lives immersed in the moment. Sadly and tragically, in searching for a personal soul, people are forgetting the desperate need we all have for transcendence. And transcendence is only found in Christ and His Story.

It isn’t the reading of many books that make us learned or holy. It’s the frequent reading of one book, the Book of books, that develops wisdom and righteousness.

The psalmist says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” Psalm 119:130. Note how it’s the “unfolding” (opening to reveal what is disclosed) of God’s Word that gives light. There are no two ways around this. To dispel darkness, unnerving encounters with the Word are required.

As a Westerner reading the Bible (as it’s geographically, historically, socially and culturally linked to this world) I must remember that it’s not a European book – it’s a Middle Eastern book.

Education devoid of God’s Word leads to arrogant occultism or secular bigotry. So if Christ is to have the ultimate authority over hearts and minds then His Word must be at the centre of education.

God’s Word should be the foundation on which every ministry is built. Every ministry value, principle, practice and expected outcome should be scripturally sound. If there’s no biblical support or precedence for a ministry activity, program, or approach, it shouldn’t be part of what we say or do.

The starting point for marinating children in Jesus’ Story is a deep and progressive study of the biographies of Jesus. Children should know the Gospels from back to front and from front to back. And for this to happen we’ve got to expose children to the Gospels in ways that unveil them to the extraordinary, glorious, unbridled, beautiful, astonishing love of Jesus.

A moral quagmire isn’t a random occurrence. When the Bible becomes a closed book; ignorance, corruption, avarice, depravity, infidelity, and savagery will take root and flourish.

One can never be a mature Christian or adequately fulfil God’s purpose for one’s life without extensive reading and reflection on God’s Word.

When our activities are in conflict with God’s Word, we tend to correct our behaviour or find a new god.

Do you have any random thoughts on Bible engagement that you’d like to add? Feel free to comment. And if you want to use or share any of the random thoughts above, please do so.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

Rooting out legalism

There’s an injunction in Galatians 6:1 to “watch yourself.” Eugene Peterson in the Message interprets this command as “saving your critical comments for yourself.” Sometimes (and tragically) the Pharisee in me gets the better of me. Instead of watching myself, I see the speck in someone else’s eye. Which got me thinking about rooting out legalism in my life, and then got me thinking about rooting out legalism in how I engage with the Bible. So here are my thoughts as they pertain to rooting out legalism in Bible engagement:

To begin, I should probably admit to a tendency to promote my own personal Bible engagement standards. My personal standards are rules or expectations expressed in words like, “Christians should have a ‘quiet time’ (prayer and Bible reading) every day.” While this personal standard may be okay for me, it’s not okay for me to press others to adopt this standard.

When I was a young Christian I was free and easy about urging fellow Christians to have a quiet time. I didn’t appreciate that what I was doing was legalistic. Most legalists are legalists without realizing it.

Recognizing that the fog of legalism is ever present helped me identify four legalistic Bible engagement inclinations that I need to guard against:

  1. Self-righteousness. If I read and reflect on God’s Word in a way that makes sure others are aware of my good behaviour, I’ve crossed the line into legalism. Performance-based Christianity should never be the goal of Bible engagement.
  2. Human effort. If my motive for reading and reflecting on God’s Word is to exert all the energy I can muster to make God happy or be a good Christian, I’ve got it all wrong. Bible engagement conducted in my own strength is antithetical.
  3. Religious duty. Reading and reflecting on God’s Word to be devout or faithful is another form of legalism. The spirit of legalism is also inherent in the fear that God might punish or reject me for not reading or reflecting on His Word. Religious duty is the enemy of Bible engagement.
  4. Personal standards. Telling others to “Read your Bible every day” is legalism. It’s not a command in the Bible and I shouldn’t equate personal values with God’s values. That to identify that the measure of Bible engagement is in God’s hands, not mine.

 

That’s my Bible engagement short list for rooting out legalism. It reminds me that Bible engagement should never be obedience to a formula or special moral code. Bible engagement, correctly undertaken, breaks all bondage to legalism and sets me free. For true Bible engagement is a grace-filled, Christ-exalting, kingdom-championing process that liberates me to live fully and only all for Jesus.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5