Bible study or skipping rocks

Some of what passes for Bible study is really just skimming the surface for something that sparks our interest (tickles our ears). It is like wanting to skip our own rock across the surface of a lake instead of taking a serious plunge beneath the surface to see what lies within. It’s just too much time and work to learn methods of diving and putting on all that gear. Skipping rocks is faster, and I can enjoy the view from land. It’s safer to just skip rocks anyway; there is no telling what challenges I might have to work through if I really dive deep. I’ll leave the deep stuff for the experts and they can just tell me what’s down there. I’ll believe them, being they are all objective and have my best interest in mind. It’s not like what’s down there has any personal implications to me and my life anyway. (Hopefully you get my illustration and sarcasm).

This is from a lecture that I heard online from Covenant Seminary. The background of the quote is that the professor is covering all forms of background, historical context, word usage, themes, original language considerations and interpretive difficulties of a particular book of the Bible.

“Some of my students in the past have said that they became discouraged at this point in the class for two reasons. The first reason is that what I have introduced is not how most people approach the Bible. They do not approach it with such care; they certainly do not approach it with such theological emphases…. Second, you have said that you and most people you know are lazier than this. You want to be lazy, but I am not letting you be lazy!

Part of the whole point of this course is to address your laziness when you approach Scripture. Laziness is extremely dangerous because this is the Word of God. Let me address this comment and another one for a minute. It is not normal for people in Western society to take a book off the shelf, for instance Hemingway, and hang on every word in every sentence as if it is divinely inspired. I hope that is not normal. You would not do that with Melville, Shakespeare, or other literary authors either. Therefore, when we come to Scripture, we often bring the same level of laziness. Let us just read it through and get the big picture. Or we read it with such detail because we want the verse to apply to our lives. But we have never been taught how to read in that level of detail. Our English classes have taught us how to read 300 pages and write a book report. We do not know how to read three sentences and talk about how each word is important in our lives. Any time that you approach Scripture, you should see it as divinely inspired, and you should want every word to matter. Inevitably, Scripture calls forth a different approach to it as literature than you would use for any other book. It is something that requires more rigor and study. When I interact with laziness I want to say, “Sorry—it is the Word of God!” Dare we approach the Word of God lazily? Most people are lazy in their Bible study. They have 10 minutes. They are going to read their passage for the day in their weekly reading cycle. They are going to try and get something out of it, and they are going to leave. They do this instead of going through the hard process of all the things that have to go into understanding each and every word. That is to our shame.” (Emphasis mine.)

In my next few posts I hope to expound on ideas and methods that everyday Christians can use for Bible study. This was just a primer to wake us up a bit.


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