Two Ways to Approach the Bible in a Fresh Way
I have heard this phrase too many times and it still baffles me! Whenever I hear this I think of all the possible reasons why this person perceives the Bible as boring. Perhaps they don’t enjoy reading? Maybe they find the Bible confusing? Maybe they oversimplify the message? Maybe they don’t know how it is applicable to them? Many reasons can be stated. But one thing is for certain: the Bible is not boring!
Here are two approaches to reading the Bible that have really helped me and my students be more excited to engage the sacred Scriptures.
I remember when Ariana (my wife) and I had the opportunity to go to Italy. Pizza and gelato every day never got old! We enjoyed the different towns and the scenery and history. But we were humble guests in this foreign place. We didn’t speak more than five words of Italian. We didn’t know our way around without a map or GPS. We were tourists, and we knew it. We could have acted like we knew what we were doing. “Fake it until you make it,” as the old saying goes. But how helpful would that actually have been? The answer: not at all. Knowing that we were tourists helped us better navigate our way around and even appreciate Italy on its own terms.
Likewise, the Bible is far more exotic than many of us give it credit.
The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with some sections of Aramaic. The New Testament is all in ancient, Koine Greek. That alone rules most people out of being a native of the text! Not only the language, but the cultural world was vastly different. Heck, the culture of Abraham in Genesis and Peter in Acts are more different than they are alike!
To actually understand the ancient text of Scripture we have to traverse the differences of time, language, and culture.
Instead of discouraging us, this should excite us! Think about it. How often do we go to the movies to enter into a realm different than our own? We are fascinated by exotic things, but only if we still see a connection to our own lives.
The Bible is the perfect blend between the exotic and the relevant. The ancient text challenges us to travel back in time to a different world (yet on the same planet earth), but the message of the Bible remains timeless with just as much relevance now as it had then.
Think of Indiana Jones. His adventures are something we all long for! What I really like about Indiana Jones is how he was not just some explorer with all brawn and no brains. He was an intelligent man. He even taught at a university!
I want to postulate that diving deeper into God’s Word involves both our heart and our head. Our explorations of Scripture don’t end with knowing more facts or pieces of information. When done properly, Bible Study finds its end in life transformation.
Information + Application = Transformation.
But how can we apply the text if we don’t know the text? That is why we need to be explorers to find the treasure of meaning underneath the surface level reading of Scripture.
Another thing about the approach of being an explorer: Every explorer knows that the best way to find the treasure is to make sure you are looking far more intently than the average Joe. That is why Indiana Jones was able to find things that others couldn’t.
As explorers, we need to start with questions, but not just any questions, the right questions. What questions is the text of the Bible answering? That is the question that precedes the question! (Isn’t this thrilling?) Because if we ask the wrong questions, well, we will either get wrong answers or off-topic answers. Truthfully, the Bible doesn’t answer all of our questions. It does not have an index with answers to all of what we find relevant. But the good news is that the most important questions are answered.
So, what do you need? To best appreciate the Bible you need a time-traveling tour guide who can take you into an exploration of Scripture in search of timeless, life-giving truths that inform us of who God is, who we are, and how to best understand the story of everything! It is my life’s passion to a follower of Jesus, a student of His Word, and a guide for His people. I rigorously study the language, culture, and message of the ancient text with the objective of seeing how it leads us to as embodiments of the kingdom message today.
You may not be a scholar, and that is okay! The Bible is just as much a book for you as it is for me. But maybe approaching it like a tourist will propel you to read slower, ask more questions, and find a guide (hey, like me!). There are plenty of great books, podcasts, and resources (and plenty of not so great ones). (And no amount of resources should replace the role of being part of a local church body.)
My friends, God did not create everything in the cosmos than simply hide behind an infinite dark hole to be incognito. He created everything so that He could then reveal Himself. The Creator wants to have a relationship with His creation. He has made Himself known in human history and through a beautiful redemptive story that the Bible tells.
I’ll be your guide. There are far too many adventures and explorations that lay ahead! And the milestones always produce a greater understanding of the majesty of God and our identity as His image-bearers. Ready to embark on this adventure together? Great! But one word of caution: those who follow Jesus never remain the same. We grow as we go, my friends.
There is no greater adventure than knowing the God of the Bible. Welcome to Adventures in Theology!