Why do you read your Bible? How do you read your Bible? Perhaps I should begin with the foundational question, Do you read your Bible? Reading, studying, and discussing the Scriptures all work as means of grace. The Bible opens the way for us to dive deeper and deeper into God. It acts as a guide for those who choose to walk the pilgrimage of life we call discipleship. The Bible is a living document, meaning that the passing of time does not diminish its relevance to our lives. How we understand it may change. How it speaks to us may evolve. Nonetheless, no matter how old we are and no matter the changes that take place in the world, the Scriptures still have wisdom and truth for us.
One of my favorite aspects of United Methodist theology is that we do not demand adherence to the idea that the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant. We believe that the Scriptures hold everything we need to know for salvation, but we do not need to accept a literal, inerrant interpretation of them. I appreciate that fact because I know that if that were the case, I would be one of those (and I’ve met quite a few in my life) who, when faced with conflicting messages within the Bible, would have walked away from the faith.
God’s grace is found in the Scriptures not through literalism built on the concept of inerrancy but through the power of the Holy Spirit who speaks to us through the Scriptures. Literalism is actually the easy way out. Who needs the Holy Spirit when you take the Scriptures literally? Who needs to study the Scriptures when you’ve got some guy (and yes it would always be a guy) telling you exactly what they mean?
To receive the Scriptures as a means of grace is one of the great adventures of this life. When you study the Scriptures for transformation rather than for information you discover a new frontier with no end point. Always – absolutely always – there will be more for you to discover. When you embrace the Scriptures as a love letter from God rather than a manual for what to do and not do, you find yourself falling in love with God over and over again, forever spiraling deeper and deeper into unity with God.
So I ask you again: Why do you read your Bible and how do you read your Bible? When you enter its pages, what are you hoping to find? What are you seeking as you comb through its pages? How comfortable are you with holding a serious (but fun) conversation with God about what you are reading? How comfortable are you with questioning the literal meaning of certain parts and with delving more into the spiritual meaning? And are you willing to share your journey with others in the kind of Bible study that doesn’t depend on having someone else tell you what to believe or how to interpret what you read? For it is in this open encounter with the written word of God that you will discover the means of grace that lead you into a true encounter with the Word of God who took on human flesh to lead us in this amazing adventure.
Rev. Joyce Day
If you would like to view past editions of Grace for the Journey, follow this link: https://sounddistrictnc.org/category/grace-for-the-journey/