The Bible can be a strange book. Let’s just be honest. There are things in it that, culturally and historically, are confusing or seem weird. There are characters that behave badly and are far from shining examples of moral living. There are stories that take surprising twists and turns and even leave you scratching your head in bewilderment.
Yes, all of that is true. And the Bible is also an exciting and deeply engaging book! It breathes with life and power and relevance. It continues to speak to us today, personally and as a community of God’s people. While there are many different literary genres in the Bible narratives, poetry, songs, laws, letters, prayers, etc.—the primary shape the Bible takes is that of story. This is the primary way God reveals himself to us: through the medium of story.
The Bible, then, is not intended to be science text book or a guide for moral living, although it certainly has something to say about these things. It is primarily a book that tells us the story of who God is, what God is like, and how God is at work in the world. Most simply, the Bible is God’s Story. God is the central actor in this biblical drama.
And the Bible is also our story. We’re in the story. We see ourselves in the characters and situations that unfold. And we discover who we truly are as God’s children, a missional people called and sent to participate in God’s work in the world.
I love the way Eugene Peterson puts it:
Scripture…does not present us with a moral code and tell us ‘Live up to this’; nor does it set out a system of doctrine and say, ‘Think like this and you will live well.’ The biblical way is to tell a story, and in the telling invite: ‘Live into this—this is what it looks like to be human in this God made and God-ruled world; this is what is involved in becoming and maturing as a human being.’…When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.
Throughout the next twelve weeks, we’re going to immerse ourselves in this story of the Exodus in effort to see how our stories fit into God’s larger Story. Every day you will be invited to dwell in a part of the Exodus story, as well as a psalm (or two), that will be written on this blog. As you do, here are some tips that may be helpful to keep in mind:
- The goal of reading the Bible is not just to get more information but to be transformed into the image of Jesus. God cares about who we are becoming just as much, if not more, as what we know.
- Don’t get hung up on what you don’t understand. Pay attention to what you do understand and what gets stirred up in you.
- Pay attention also to when you feel yourself experiencing resistance. Get curious about it. Remember that it’s okay to ask questions. Faithful Bible reading is an invitation to wrestle with the text. God is big enough to handle our hardest questions, rawest emotions, and strongest doubts. Just do so in a way that you stay humble and “open” to what God wants to show you.
- Ask these two questions of every text: First, what is this part of the story saying about God? Second, in light of what it says about God, what does this story say about me/us?Then listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you personally (and to “us” as a church) through this story. I’d recommend journaling your thoughts.
- Finally, how is God calling you to respond with obedience to what you’ve read? What specific way(s) is God calling you to get into action today? The Bible is to be lived, and transformation happens when we practice what we are learning. God calls us to not just be “hears of the Word” but “doers of the Word.” In the doing, we will experience God’s blessing. (James 1:22-27)
One of the best ways for us to learn and grow is by engaging Scripture in community. I’m hoping this blog might provide space for reading the Bible in community. Please share your reflections, questions, insights, etc. here on this blog for others to read. Let’s make this journey together!