Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reading the Bible - Part 2 of 2

As we engage in reading the bible we discover a big story by which it is possible to make sense of humanity’s story and of our own story. We discover that the bible is the great story of God’s love and plan for humanity. It’s an exciting concept but reading the bible can be a daunting task. A lot of bibles, no doubt, live covered in dust down in that black hole between the bedside cabinet and bed. In truth is the bible is simple and complex. It is an ancient document even though you can download it to your iPhone. Making sense of the original meaning and context, the big story and its implications for life today, can be a challenge.

A plain reading often reveals plain truth. Genesis 1-3 tells us that God is the creator of the universe and that humans are somehow special in creation, designed to reflect the nature of God but that something has gone wrong.  It is simple and straight forward. But it is complex as well. How exactly did God create the universe? Instantly? 10,000 odd years ago? 4.5 billion years ago? Via an evolutionary process that God set about? How is humanity special? What does it mean to be created “in the image of God”? What’s gone wrong and can it be remedied?

It is helpful to remember that the bible was always intended to be read in conversation. Most of the books of the bible are addressed to a community of people who would have engaged with the content in conversation with each other, the young and the old, the immature and the wise. Read in community it is much easier to make sense of. To do this you need to slow down. Forget any bible-in-a-year type plan. Read with a friend or a group of friends and invite an expert into the discussion. It’s not that hard to do, the experts write books.

(My favourite way to read the bible is on random sets of steps down alleys with my arms wrapped around my wife [like the couple in this picture]. It has never happened but I am sure it would be awesomeness. #somepeoplearefruity)

N.TWright, one of the world’s leading bible scholars, has a series of books called For Everyone in which he explains in simple terms what’s going on in the various books of the New Testament. Just “google” John for Everyone or Romans for Everyone. The Drama of Scripture is a great introduction to the big story of the bible written by two great scholars.  Finally, by Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel (exploring the gospel) and One.Life (exploring Christian living) provide a fantastic explanation of the Christian faith. If you’ve been reading the bible for years or never have but always thought you’d like to have a crack, these books will be a great help in making sense of the big story of the bible.

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