Making Scripture Stick
Ever struggle to get into the Bible? Some passages can make you go cross-eyed with confusion. Others can convict you so deeply you feel like you’ve been side-swiped by a porcupine. Then there are times the words act like a fluffy blanket, telling you exactly what you need to hear when you need to hear it.
But the Word of God isn’t just meant to be a tool to comfort.
A teacher and speaker I really admire and respect once shared that he spent almost a full year reading and meditating on Ephesians 1. The concept that God, Yahweh, Creator of heaven and earth, would give so much to him, a sinner, astounded him. An entire year, in one chapter of the Bible.
He was the same teacher who said, “You don’t know the Word until you’ve become it.”
That struck me. I have read the Bible a dozen times or more. I’ve read books hundreds of times, and certain scriptures thousands of times. I have passages memorized and I can even quote the address.
But do I know it? Have I become it?
Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).
Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-48).
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).
Have I really become these scriptures? The Word of God takes on a whole new level of intensity when you think about actually becoming the scriptures you read. But isn’t that the whole point?
“Follow me” Jesus said. “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 8:22; 10:38). Following him isn’t a suggestion. As Christians we are, by definition, Christ FOLLOWERS.
It’s not about trying to do all this, it’s about becoming it. Not trying to follow Christ, but being Christ-like because of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit in Christ, resides inside each of us if we've been born again. His power enables us to do all things, the things we know we can’t do on our own, and the ones we pridefully think we can and - in turn - steal His glory.
Despite the dozens and hundreds of times I’ve read scripture, it doesn’t mean anything unless my goal is to become what I’m reading. Lately I’ve been spending less time reading the Bible, and more time meditating on passages. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and His Word, asking the Holy Spirit to show me more. God is infinite, which means His word can impact me an infinite number of ways.
Yet I read the same passages with the same attention to detail, wondering why my heart isn't reaching a new level of growth.
The last couple of weeks, as I’ve nestled into Romans, I’m encouraged to share that I’ve noticed a marked difference in my perception of God, myself, and people around me. I keep going back to certain passages, ones I’ve underlined and ones I haven’t, and pinpointing the implications of certain simple words: and, always, when…
Then I swirl it around in my mind like the first sip of a newly opened bottle of wine. I let the words settle against my circumstances. Then I wrestle. I wrestle with how other scriptures may seem to contradict what I read, how I could be misinterpreting it or looking at it through a lens of selfishness and fear rather than love and graciousness.
Then I read it again.
What does my interpretation tell me about myself? About the lens through which I see? What does the scripture tell me about my Father? What does it tell me about Yahweh’s view of me and desire for my life? How could I be mis-shaping the truth to suit what I want to believe and how I want to live?
Suddenly I’m spending 45 minutes on three verses. Those words dig deeper into my heart and even though I may not come to some amazing conclusion, I’m spending time with the Father, in His word.
By ceasing to see the Word of God as a list of things to do better, and ways to be better, and rather a love letter inviting me into relationship with Him, things changed. Rather than trying to figure out how to measure up to scripture, I realize that it’s a giant book telling me how I can’t - and how Jesus already has! In Him, I have measured up, because He already did.
The Bible isn’t a 2x4. It’s a tool, a gentle whisper in the ear saying “this way,” a lamp in the darkness, a hug in the middle of the night, a smile and a tear. It’s a hundred examples of people who tried and failed and how God was true to His Word and fulfilled His promises anyway.
It's tens of thousands of ways Abba is saying, "I love you."
It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to begin with a desire in you to know Him. It’s amazing how He does the rest. I'm encouraged and reassured that even though I know scripture pretty well, He is faithful to open my eyes to a deeper understanding, a deeper knowing, simply because I ask for it. I invite you to ask.