How Do I Read the Bible?

I’ve been reading and writing and not posting. That doesn’t feel good to me. So here it comes. Words that aren’t quite clear. Thoughts that I’ve just poured down on paper.

How Do I Read the Bible?

Today, I was reading the gospel of John, chapters 8 and 9. When I read the Bible, I usually read a short passage, a few verses. I read two whole chapters because the I was looking for the end of the argument. In these chapters Jesus is arguing with the scribes and pharisees. According to the writer of John, Jesus is trying to convince these religious leaders that he is God with us. Jesus keeps saying, God the Father is part of me, sent me. He keeps telling them to open their eyes. In the midst of it, Jesus demonstrates his healing power. Jesus heals a man born blind. Even this healing miracle does nothing to convince his listeners, his questioners, his accusers.

When I had finished reading these two chapters, I picked up Henri Nouwen’s, “The Only Necessary Thing”. In his chapter on the “Discipline of Prayer”, he talks about Bible Reading and Contemplation. This morning I read, “the word of God should lead us first of all to contemplation and meditation. Instead of taking the words apart, we should bring them together in our innermost being; instead of wondering if we agree or disagree, we should wonder which words are directly spoken to us and connect directly with our most personal story. Instead of thinking about the words as potential subjects for an interesting dialogue or paper (I substituted blog), we should be willing to let them penetrate into the most hidden corners of our heart, even to those places where no other word has yet found entrance. Then and only then can the word bear fruit as seed sown in rich soil. Only then can we really “hear and understand”. (Matt. 13:23)”

And so I went back and thought about the writer’s words in those two chapters. What was God trying to tell me this morning? This is what I wrote down – what I heard from God – the seed God is trying to sew in my heart this morning.

In these two chapters I hear John spending a lot of time on “Who is Jesus?” John relates Jesus’ words telling me Jesus is God with us. Jesus declares it. The Pharisees don’t believe. Jesus offers proof by healing the man born blind. This miracle does not convince them. As I thought about the wholeness of those two chapters, I realized that in my heart I do believe that Jesus was God with us, teaching us God’s “Way” of living, loving. I truly believe that God lives within each one of us calling us to be a conduit for God’s presence in our world. We are each God’s precious children. God lives within us. I know there is no real logical proof of this belief but it is true. If Jesus couldn’t convince people with his words and miracles, I certainly won’t be able too. It’s a mystery. Proof in words and actions is not necessary. I just need to be God’s loving child and help others to be God’s loving children. That will take different forms over my life time. Sometimes I will do well. Sometimes I will feel like a total failure. Always this is my path.

All I can do is live as God calls me. In everything I do and say, I need to live God’s love. In my preaching, my blogging, my writing, I am a conduit for God’s love. It’s that simple and that difficult, all at the same time. With God’s help, I can always return to that purpose.

I have decided that Henri Nouwen is right. Instead of being frustrated with those two Biblical chapters, instead of feeling as if Jesus is just fighting a losing battle, instead of thinking that John is just trying to convince me of something that makes no sense, I have heard a reassurance of my own faith. I have heard God’s call once again especially in my writing.

So these are my thoughts for your contemplation. Read and ignore, that’s your choice. Or try reading those chapters in the Gospel of John and listen for God’s word for you. If you like write me and tell me what you have heard. I’d truly like that.

One thought on “How Do I Read the Bible?”

  1. Amen… simple yet challenging to effect. When it comes right down to it, we can only model by our own actions, right Jan? Example is the most compelling form of leadership.

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