I have had a lot of fun the past few weeks teaching a Wednesday night class at Hunter Hills Church on Scripture. What is it? How are we to read it? What is its purpose? In my preparation, I’ve read several books through the years, but the most recent I mentioned in a previous post was Eugene Peterson’s masterful work Eat This Book.
One of the things I’ve learned over the last 5 years has greatly changed how I approach not only the Bible, but my faith in general, and that is that the Bible is not the object of my faith. The Bible is not God, is not the object of my worship and love, and when it becomes that, then the Bible has become an idol. So what is the purpose of Scripture then? Revelation. The Bible points us to God, reveals God, invites us into his world and his way of life for us. That is different than a book of legal commands, or even a book of cute inspirational quotes.
Listen again to the wonderful words Peterson shares:
“But it was to make us followers of Jesus that this text was given to us in the first place, and if either the large story or the detailed sentences are ever used for anything else, however admirable or enticing, why bother?” Eat This Book pg 59
I love that. The Bible was to make us followers of Jesus. The Word reveals God, hints at him, gives us a story of his interaction with the world, and invites us to participate in that story. That is a far cry from the excavating of the text to support or create doctrine to further build our walls of division. This is reading for transformation into the image and likeness of Christ, rather than information about Christ (though that can be and is helpful). This isn’t a reading to organize churches (though we find some of that), but a reading to organize our lives as disciples.
I’m thinking more and more that the goal of faith isn’t to master the text, nor to master God, but to let him master us. The goal of reading the Bible is to invite us into deep faith and trust in the One revealed in the text, not faith and trust into our interpretations of the text. Let us not confuse the means with the end.
So today, read the text. Eat this book. And as we read, let’s let the story unfold as an invitation to participate in a different world and different way of life. Let’s let the story be an invitation to following in the way of Christ.