It feels strange to first talk about Scripture and spiritual formation on Day 14. If my intuition is correct, some of you were wondering why I hadn’t mentioned it first.
Well, I’m a bit stubborn and didn’t mention it until now on purpose.
Don’t get me wrong. I love reading and studying the Scriptures. I have no less than a gazillion different Bibles, in many different translations, and I like them each for a different reason. I’ve attended Bible studies and led Bible studies over the years and believe that studying Scripture can be incredibly life-giving. One of the primary ways in which I worship God is through my mind. Learning new things about God and seeing how Scripture reveals who God is makes my heart feel robust and alive.
I spent most of this year reading through the Old Testament. It started out well, but got pretty hairy fast. Even with seminary training and several past Bible-read-throughs under my belt , I had a lot of questions for God. Why was He so harsh? Why kill so many people? Really- stoning a kid for disobedience to his parents? I must admit: I have a hard time reconciling the person of Jesus with some of what I read in the Old Testament. If I think too hard about it, it freaks me out and sometimes makes me second guess the One I’m putting all of my trust into.
In August, I dutifully finished the Old Testament portion of my reading plan and moved on to the New Testament. As my eyes began taking in the text of the Matthew, I laughed in delight and my heart felt a huge burden being lifted off of it. There you are, Jesus, my heart whispered. But why such a different picture between the Old and New?
In her upcoming book, Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey explains the solution to my heart conundrum this way:
Jesus came to show us the true God: God in the world and in our lives and in our relationships with one another. If we want to know what God is like, we can look to Jesus. And if we want to read the Bible well, we need to start with Jesus and remain in Jesus, and we need to let Jesus explain it. The Bible doesn’t trump Jesus; Jesus interprets the Bible.“
For so many years I was (unconsciously) taught that the Trinity was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scriptures. But, as Jesus says to the religious leaders in John, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to receive this life.”
How we view the Scriptures shapes our soul. If we see it as the Ultimate Rule Book, our soul forms a certain way. If we see it as a Love Story, our soul is formed a bit differently. If we see the Scriptures as God, our soul is formed differently than if we see the Scriptures as a set of texts given to us to help us understand the Good News of Jesus.
I love how Sarah puts it:
There is no end to the ways God will work in and through the Scriptures to reach us. We read the Bible as it reads us; it is the two-edged sword rightly dividing truth, separating and seeing through us. How we read and study Scripture- and then how that reading changes minds and hearts and lives- is a great testimony of the Spirit’s activity in us and through us.
How do you view Scripture? How is your viewing shaping your soul?