When I was at school I had a bag full of books. They used to come with me each day. English books. Geography books. History books. Chemistry books. Maths books. Books for this subject. Books for that subject. That bag was my burden. The straps would cut into my shoulders. The bag was sometimes too big and sometimes too small. But come the weekend I never touched that bag. Weekends were my freedom from that bag.
Nowadays the internet and gadgets make all of that irrelevant. Nowadays when I go on holiday my tablet carries my reading library. Nowadays my bag carries fun stuff and useful stuff. My bag nowadays is not a burden.
I have both respect and confusion for “bible prowess”. Respect – the ability to throw out a few words attached to a verse reference. Confusion – what does throwing out a reference actually mean? And how did “John 3:16” become just “3:16” – and just what does that mean – what does that assume – who does that exclude – and how does it change the relationship between God and me – and have I changed God to something He is not because of that?
I have never mastered bible prowess. I desire it less and less as I grow with God.
But I never felt comfortable admitting that too freely. My perception is that to admit “casual” bible reading is to admit “casual commitment to God”. My church teaching was that to not “know your bible” is to not know your God. My church teaching was that the bible is God. Which means mastery of my bible is also mastery of my God. But mostly I learned that God is an academic subject with no weekends off.
Bible Reading is Broken and It’s NOT Your Fault! Bibegateway again. Biblegateway (along with the Institute for Bible Reading) doing Facebook “Live”. Two chaps sitting in front of a camera being “accessible”.
And making me put down my scepticism and put on my listening ears.
A potted history of “form” and the bible – an explanation of how that “form” directs our reading (or not reading) – a summary of how our “behaviour” has been changed by that form – how we have changed God rather than how God has changed us(?).
That is now two interventions my God Soft Hands Jesus has made recently. Both focusing on the bible and His Word – THE Word of God.
“The Bible Tells me So … Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable To Read it”, by Peter Enns and a bunch of posts beginning with Where is Unconditional Love – Part 1
And now this: “Bible Reading is Broken and It’s NOT Your Fault!” …
Adding chapters (because you need them to make sense of bible commentaries), and then verse numbers (because you need them to make sense of bible concordances). And the observation that if this “additional form” had been only for academic study, then no problem. Except that the bible – in this form – became “The Bible”. And that elevated The Bible to a reference book. And our reading has become our referencing.
Referencing of little God-truth-protein-pills. Like John 3:16 (or the all-knowing “3:16”). With a “Google search” format birthed back in the 16th century – just not with smart phones. The bible became a reference text that we all have to study, to memorise and to be able to quote these little God-truth-protein-pills.
And maybe a by-product of all this well-intentioned spiritual endeavour was for the bible to become the inerrant and irrefutable “Minutes of Board Meetings with God (down the ages)” – which has become the Christian Tradition – which has become shorthand language – which results in the language of “3:16”.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.“
The rest … ?
Has become our burden, our cross to carry, our cause of persecution and hardship, our tithe for admission into eternity.
Is this what we have done, and continue to do, to God?