What should we expect in our study? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Sometimes, I hear people say that every time they read the Bible, they get something new out of it. Now to some extent, this could be true. Imagine if you become a Christian and you grew up in a world that didn’t have a Bible. For quite a while, you will see new stuff because you didn’t grow up with a Christian background. However, if you study every day, after a while, those passages will grow familiar. You won’t see brand new things every day.
My concern here is for new Christians. Like I said, if you grew up without a background knowledge of Christianity, it could be different, but what if you did have one? Does this mean you will see something new every time? What if you don’t? Does this mean that you are a deficient Christian?
Too often in the church we tend to speak in high spiritual language and I suspect we’re doing it to look like really good Christians in front of others. Very rarely do you see some of these people who say this talk about a deep and personal struggle that they’re having. It’s understandable to an extent. I’m going through Lewis’s A Grief Observed again and thinking about how he wrote it under an assumed name at first. I’m glad we know who wrote it today. Some of the best comfort I receive in church is not from people in the church, especially leaders, sharing their strengths, but sharing their weaknesses.
We all know there’s a tendency in church to make us all look better than we are. This is particularly so with testimonies. Greg Koukl once said if you were in a band in college and became a Christian, you were a disenchanted rock star. If you smoked some marijuana, you were a recovering drug addict. It’s too easy to hear a testimony and wonder “Why isn’t my life like that?”
To get back to the Bible, this is not to say that there is limited knowledge in the Bible. We can study that book forever and I suspect there will always be more to uncover. It is to say not every session is meant to have the heavens open up with trumpets sounding. Sometimes a Bible study will just reinforce something we already know and need to be reminded of. Sometimes we could even get bored. How many people say they want to read through the whole Bible and Genesis and Exodus have some great stories for them, but then they get to Leviticus and start to get weak?
There is also another way to get biblical insights. Some of my best insights nowadays come from reading books about the Bible by people like biblical scholars who look back on the text with the insights of the original languages or the original culture and they point out matters I wouldn’t have noticed on my own. Then I can go back to the text and see that in there and say “That does put this text in a new light.”
Some of you might be shocked about that. “Going to someone else to understand the Bible?” Yeah. We have this strange idea often that it’s me and the Holy Spirit. However, if that is what you think, why are you even reading this blog to see what I have to say? Let’s take it a step further. Why care what your pastor has to say in church on Sunday? What do you need him for?
My ultimate concern here is overselling Christianity. We might be giving to some Christians an impression that isn’t really true, but makes us look good. Now if it is true for you, then by all means share more often. Tell us what you’re discovering. Now my great fear with that sadly is if my suspicion is right, you might have discovered something heretical. We’ll see if we can start discussing to find out.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)