There are a lot of things in life that we want to make sure we do not misuse. For instance, those little signs that have replaced the words “Men” and “Women” on most public bathrooms are important. Another example is the inappropriate way the referee used his whistle in the USA-Slovenia game last week. Or perhaps the way “Ke$ha” completely misuses that dollar sign in the middle of her name. It is important to get those things right.
It is important to get scripture right too. If indeed the Bible is the second greatest form of revelation given to mankind, if indeed these 66 books are the best and most complete understanding we will receive of God almighty this side of heaven; then it is of the utmost importance that we use this tool in the proper manner. However, I have a hunch that many (if not most) people sitting in the pews of our churches today have at best a misunderstanding of scripture, its purpose and its use. (See my earlier post on this here.) The last couple of posts have discussed scripture’s purpose. Now, I am going to look at its use.
Let us get introspective for a moment. How do you use the Bible? We have probably all been tempted to use a method of Bible study that is not exactly what God intended for his holy words. Perhaps you have followed the “Pray and Point” method where you expect God to direct your finger to his specific word for your life in that moment. Or maybe you preferred to use it like a telephone book, where you look at that index in the back of your Bible based on your mood. “For sadness, look at these verses… for forgiveness, go here.” Then there is the prescription approach where a couple of verses are ingested daily for the sole purpose of saying you have read your Bible that day. I have actually heard the phrase, “A verse a day keeps the devil away!” from the pulpit.
However, I feel the approach most Christians may be guilty of in the States is osmosis. It seems that people feel if they carry their Bible around in their book bag at school (you know those kids… I was one of them) or their hand at church, it will soak in somehow. They probably never open the thing, but they have it prominently displayed so others can see. Or maybe it sits on the coffee table or desk in the office next to the other decorations, raked to just the right angle so it appears it has been read instead of sitting there for weeks. People lay Bibles around like they are emitting some magic, spiritual wi-fi that will bless their house, family or life. Yet, an unread Bible blesses no one.
Growing up, I was guilty of most of these at some point. It seemed whenever I would do the finger point though, I would wind up in some obscure passage and discover that I should not boil a goat in its mother’s milk. I became a veteran at the osmosis technique. I usually had a Bible with me, whether I was at school, church, or in my car; however, it was rarely opened. Truth be told, I was kind of intimidated by the thing. I heard at least once a week in youth group or a sermon that I should read the thing everyday and study it often, but every time I picked it up, I had no clue where to start. I would go to conferences and see these dynamic guys up on stage talking about how this book had the power to change lives if you would just live in it (whatever that meant), but I felt there was some kind of secret to understanding it. What did these people know that I did not?
The answer to that question was nothing. Nothing. There was no extra tool I needed, no special training or degree necessary to unlock the “secrets” of God’s Word. All I needed was a little common sense and an ear to listen.
I will be honest with you, it was not until I had already graduated from college the first time that I came to that realization. When I did though, it changed my life. That power all those conference speakers were yelling about, come to find out, really is between those leather covers. The best news is it is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord.
Think with me for a minute. Why would God inspire all of these authors over all of these years to write and compile this masterpiece of revelation, his way of disclosing himself to mankind, and then require some secret trick to unlock its knowledge? That makes about a much sense as North Korea paying Chinese actors to play the role of fans in the World Cup (check it out) or canned unicorn meat. Why would God give mankind a gift they could not unwrap? That would be a sick joke.
Instead, he has made it available to everyone. It is plain, if you use your common sense. It is powerful, if you listen to its words. It will change your life, if you just let it.
Next, we will talk about common sense and understanding the Bible…
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