I live in Texas. Many of you know this. And for the past 10 years of my life I have lived in “The Bible Belt” – an area that is marked by Churches, Christian Tradition, and tons of “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS” bumper stickers.
Now – don’t get me wrong. I love where I live. I love the people, I love the moral tradition and Christian faith that is so openly expressed and coined.
But I think we have gotten used to living other people’s ideas of who God is and what His word says. You see, I have been on a journey to read the Bible as much as possible (and sometimes as quickly as possible) over the past few years. And, the more I read it, the more I am conflicted when it comes to what I hear people say it says.
The Bible, at its core, is offensive to the Human condition. The Bible says things about God that I never hear people attribute to Him. The Bible gives a TON of ‘names’ to God. Yet, many congregations tend to focus on one or two aspects of Him…and throw the rest out.
God is PEACE and WRATH. God is LOVE and JUSTICE. God is JOY and master of STORMS. We have to stop looking at His word in a “this or that” lens and start reading it for what it is: A collection of books that explain people’s experiences, doubts, beliefs, and confidence in God.
If we only read the Bible literally then very important aspects of God’s word become confusing and down-right heretical. If we only read the Bible through a metaphorical or poetic lens then we risk missing out on KEY truths of God and His character.
Besides these points – why is it that the Bible is the only book, or text, in our lives that we worry about reading literally? Is there any book or group of text that YOU read every single time literally? That would be insane. Even our news, blogs, social media, use metaphors and poetic literature mixed in with literal ideals and ideas.
I’d like to challenge us to read the Bible and begin taking God seriously. Allow your lens to be one of openness, cultural accuracy, and linguistic fluidity. Don’t force your mind to be narrowed through a lens that you were taught to read the book from. Allow your mind and heart to be open to His LIVING word and see what happens when you start taking His word for what it is.
Oh, and here is a shameless plug, I am reading the Bible all the way through and I am inviting YOU to join me on this journey. It is a 90 day plan – which equates to about an hour of reading a day. Here’s the link!