Jump Into The Word

Bible Engagement Blog

Let the Bible be the Bible!

1 Comment

Let the Bible be the Bible!

Why do we strive to regulate, manage and systemize the Bible? Why do we reduce it to simple terms? Why do we try to cut it down to our size?

Do we really believe we can exercise control over God’s Word? Can the extraordinary be reduced to the ordinary? Can we grasp what’s sacred with our minds? Can the Story that runs deeper than our stories be governed by us? Can the Word that brings order to the world be ordered by those in the world?

Of course not. God’s Word cannot and will not be subjugated by man. “Nothing and no one can resist God’s Word” Hebrews 4:13 (MSG). For it’s wider and deeper than the sum of our years. Framed from the very beginning, it endures forever. “Laying us open to listen and obey” Hebrews 4:12 (MSG).

Let the Bible be the Bible!

How dare we think we can make it do our bidding? How dare we reduce it, as Anglican theologian N.T. Wright says, “so that whatever text we preach on it will say basically the same things”? How dare we treat it, as American Presbyterian minister Eugene Peterson says, “as just another tool for enlightenment or access to knowledge”?

We do well to remember that it’s not us that meets with the Bible so much as the Bible that meets with us. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9.

Note the repeated use of the word “higher.” God’s in control, not us. Because God’s in control, we must come under His authority. We must relate to His Word on His terms and read His Story recognizing that it’s powerful and distinct.

Let the Bible be the Bible!

What does that look like? How do we read the Bible on God’s terms? How do we read the Bible without controlling our interaction with the text and its impact on our lives? Better still, how does the Bible read us?

The Bible reads us when we allow it to reform and reshape us. It reads us when we offer it our hearts and ask it to fill us. It reads us when we invite it to straighten out our thinking and stretch our reason into shape. And it reads us when we let it work through us – when we permit it to guide our steps in accordance with its precepts.

Let the Bible be the Bible!

We fall short when we translate the scripture into timeless truths but don’t allow Truth to transform us. We fall short when we read it and get nothing out of it beyond what we already know. We fall short when we don’t constantly recapitulate ourselves to it. And we fall short when we stick to selections of favourite passages while gagging the terrifying and tremendous things that the Bible really has to say.

May half-hearted or hard-headed Bible reading be seen for what it is. May we never take control of the text as if it’s powerless without our intervention. May we never inflict our views on a passage. And may we never exercise our critical tendencies to manipulate texts to corroborate our egocentric biases.

Let the Bible be the Bible!

May we be open to living with the mystery of the scriptures even when we’re uncomfortable. May we allow the Word to become our word in the intimate ways God has scripted for us. May we know the wholeness that comes from engaging with it. May we permit the Bible to judge and re-create our thoughts and intentions, imaginations and memories. And may we be constantly seeking to live in its light.

Related Articles

How Not To Read The Bible

Ten Ways We Hinder Bible Engagement

© Scripture Union Canada 2021

2 Corinthians 4:5

Sign up by email to receive the latest notification for Jumpintotheword.

One thought on “Let the Bible be the Bible!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Privacy Policy