Christian conviction understands the bible to be unique in its revelation of God to humanity. Christian’s understand the bible to be; 1) inspired by God (the various authors wrote in their own cultural context and language but they wrote under the inspiration of God); 2) to be infallible (the bible is not liable to deceive and when understood and interpreted correctly is trustworthy); and 3) to be authoritative (the teaching, instruction and big story of the bible is to inform and shape how we live out our lives). With this in mind, how do we meaningfully engage with the bible?
We need to
appreciate that the goal is bible living not simply bible reading. The goal is
understanding that leads to transformation, understanding that leads to right
beliefs, right affections, and right living before God. As well, the bible can
be a source of strength, encouragement and wisdom in the process of
transformation. With this in mind we go to the bible to discover the true story
of humanity and of God’s love and plan for humanity. The bible contains a big
story (metanarrative) out of which it is possible to make sense of humanity’s story
and of our own individual stories and experiences.
this is the case makes reading the bible an exciting proposition and life
changing experience. For many however this isn’t their experience. It is easy
to get lost in the various genres, genealogies, and small stories that make up
the big story. Some people therefore don’t read looking to make sense of the
big story of the bible and its implications for their own story and life.
Rather, understanding that the bible is inspired by God and that God can
inspire you as you read, some people simply read looking for a verse or line to
stand out which they can underline and find strength or solace in. There is
nothing expressly wrong with this but the reality is we often read into the
text what we would like the bible to say. It’s also pretty easy to miss the big
story that is unfolding as we tackle chapter or a paragraph every now and then
looking to underline something that is personally meaningful. It is a
legitimate way to read the bible but wisdom is required and, in reality, you
can do better than that.