“I don’t see how the Bible applies to my life.”
“I find the Bible more dry and confusing than anything else.”
“I feel like I’m supposed to read the Bible but I really don’t enjoy it.”
Any of that sound familiar?
If you’ve never said or thought any of this for yourself, I’m sure you’ve at least heard it from the lips of somebody else.
Sometimes these sentences describe a person’s entire relationship with the Bible. Sometimes they describe a person’s season—i.e. a person used to love reading the Word but now it feels boring, unrelatable, and even frustrating.
That can be a hard place to be. It’s especially hard when so many others talk about how much they love and even depend on their time in the Word and you never—or rarely—walk away from the Book feeling refreshed or filled up or even inspired.
Let me share a bit of my story.
When I first started reading my Bible on my own, I absolutely loved it. That was back in 6th grade. I loved what I was learning and even looked forward to the time of day when I could sit down to read and pray.
Fast forward a few years, I went off to college to pursue a biblical studies degree. I was beyond excited for the knowledge I would gain from the next three years.
So what happened? To start, I read the Bible a ton for all my classes. In some ways, it was great. But eventually things began to turn in a direction I had never expected.
I began to view the Bible more as an academic text and less as the Word of God, and that was a scary place to be.
While my story may not line up with yours, I assure you that I can relate to opening the Bible and feeling unmoved by its words. And if you’ve ever wondered how on earth a certain passage actually applies to your life? I can relate to that, too.
For a while I was so stuck in academia that I was unsure of whether or not my studies had deepened or threatened my faith. Long story short, I gave myself some room to breathe and I reacquainted myself with God’s Word as just that—God’s Word.
Thankfully, I have professors whose goal is not just to help my classmates and I know the Bible, it’s to help us know the God behind it.
So when I stepped back and reminded myself of the beauty and practicality of God’s Word, it was then that I saw something amazing. I found that my studies have left a very positive impact on me after all. I have been given knowledge and tools to understand God’s Word in an entirely new way.
In fact, this knowledge and these tools lead to an understanding of the Bible that allows me to fall more in love with our God. They help me discern what a passage is actually saying. They help me to recognize the difference between a promise that applies directly to me and one that does not.
There’s so much that I could (and will eventually!) share...but I thought I’d start small and give you one thing to forever change how you read the Bible.
This ‘thing’ stems from a class I took called Interpreting the Bible, where we learned how to (drum roll please) interpret the Bible.
We built off of the understanding that the Bible was not written directly to us. By that I mean that it wasn’t written by 21st century authors to 21st century readers like you and I.
As a wise professor of mine likes to say: “The Bible was not written to us, but it was written for us.”
And there is a difference. So, in order to interpret rightly, we must start by understanding what a passage meant for its original audience (they are who it was written to, after all!).
Then, once we understand what the passage meant, we can discern what it means for you and I today.
Read that last sentence again...because that’s the key. Understanding that one idea will forever change how you read the Bible.
A couple weeks ago, I read about God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah. He assured them that they would have a son to carry on their lineage, even in their old age.
In this account, it’s clear that Abraham and Sarah wanted a son and it truly wasn’t a bad thing to ask for. Plus, almost everyone else had at least one son...so why shouldn’t they? In the end, God fulfilled his promise and gave them exactly what they had longed for.
At a certain point in my life, I may have taken that passage to mean that just as God gave Abraham and Sarah the desires of their hearts, surely he would give me the desires of mine, as well.
But as I read through these accounts this time around (Genesis 15; 17:15-18:21; 21), I realized that the author is not at all attempting to portray God as a genie who grants our every wish.
Maybe that’s hard to hear (it is for me, too, especially since I’m ashamed that I want that to be true!), BUT there’s actually more beauty and depth and richness in this passage once we understand what it meant to its original audience. The story of this promise to Abraham and Sarah certainly still applies to you and I today...just in a different way than we might have originally thought.
Now…before this post gets too long, let’s stop there for today. Tune in again sometime in the next week to break down how these chapters in Genesis apply to us. (If you want to be notified right when the next post goes live, sign up for my newsletter!:)
This is exciting stuff, you guys. Talk to ya soon!