I have been reading Eugene Peterson’s book on his journey as a pastor (second time through) and was struck by his view of the Bible growing up as it was somewhat similar to my own. For me being in a Christian family and missionary environments, I was always surrounded by Scripture in one way or another. Yet often it seemed people used it to contest their factions or push their views. It seemed to often be reduced to rules and principles and a guide book that was there to ensure I avoided terrible moral potholes that others kept telling me about in hushed and stern terms. It could also be simplified into clichés and various slogans or sayings about sentimental god talk that was intended to motivate others but mostly had the opposite effect.
But the Bible is so much more than this – it is a collection of stories of how God encountered people and radically changed their lives and their persons and their world view. These were normal everyday people like you and me who were bumbling along trying to do their best and were surprised by God when they encountered him. They wrote their stories to try and communicate their encounters so that other people would be able to engage with this same God who had met them.
The Bible is a series of books written by humans for humans but conveying deep truths about God and directed by his Holy Spirit. Reading it is a bit like reading a newspaper in that there are many parts. There are the front page headlines, the feel good stories, the horror stories, the poetry and arts section, the funnies. Each of these needs to be read appropriately and cannot be boiled down to boring clichés and moral slogans. God is so much more real and connected and engaged in the worlds mess than my experience of him growing up.
So next time you pick up the Bible ask God to encounter you as you read the way he encountered the people of old and reveal more to you about this amazing life and kingdom that he has saved us into. This transformed way of living that reconciles us to God and us to each other. Once we truly understand it the Bible becomes anything but boring!
Grace and Peace - Garry