Do you read the Bible?
If so, how do you read your Bible?
There are a myriad of ways to do so. I’ve approached it from many different ways over the years, but in the Valley, I read it for the comfort of my soul.
I sit down, and pray for wisdom and peace and comfort….
I know when I’ve found it– the passage for me, for today. My daily bread. My soul is soothed, and I remember the limitless love of God for me. I’m going to share today’s illuminated passage for me:
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
I am about to set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
your gates of jewels,
and all your wall of precious stones.”
Isaiah 54:11-12 (NRSV)
This is exactly what I needed to hear today. God gets me. He really and truly does. I’m the one that struggles to get Him.
In reading my Bible, I sometimes run across a passage and just know it’s for someone else. Someone I know that needs words of peace and comfort and strength. If it’s appropriate, I’ll share it with them. But only because God has used others in the faith to encourage me this way when I needed them to. I always pause before sharing, because the Bible is constantly used and abused by “christians”. And many have turned away from Christianity because of this.
One way that the Bible should never be used: It should never be used to condemn others. Use it for discernment, use it to shine light into your own darkness, but never use it to further your own feelings of self- righteousness. No one will hear your words if you do, and you will come off as a complete @sshole.
(I may, or may not, know this from personal experience… Don’t judge me!)
Sometimes I shudder at how I see others using Scripture. When it’s used by “christians” to puff up their own perspective at the expense of condemning others. I think that this use of the Bible is an act of Spiritual Abuse. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten that the Bible’s true worth is not in the written words themselves, but in the way the Spirit can speak directly to our hearts through the written words. When we hold others to the letter, what we’re actually doing is taking it upon ourselves to do the work of conviction that belongs to the Holy Spirit. Basically, committing the same sin that led to the Fall– trying to usurp God.
Here’s the thing– before the Protestant Reformation, and before the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the average person didn’t have access to a Bible. Not that it mattered… Before that time, most commoners were illiterate anyway. So, how did God speak to the hearts of His people? Clearly, the Church at the time was corrupt… Because of the need for the Reformation.
Does God need people to read their Bibles in order to speak to their hearts?
I don’t think so. He’s proved to me that He can speak to whom He pleases, when He so desires.
So, why read your Bible at all?
Because we can. Because with all the conflicting voices in our post-modern world, we need help in silencing distraction so we can hear God’s voice. I think Biblical study supports that, but the Bible is only one of many things God uses to speak to us. He’s creative like that. I mean, He is the Creator after all…
So, read the Bible, or don’t. God has many ways of getting us to hear His voice. But if you do read the Bible, and you enjoy quoting Scripture to other sinners, just stop pretending that you are not a sinner too. Please stop using it to hit people over the head! It was never intended to be used to inflict harm. It was meant to help bring the message of the Living Word into focus. It was meant to speak words of comfort and hope–not ones of condemnation.
The use of Scripture should bring us ever nearer to the God of our comfort–not farther away. Condemnation can’t make that happen. Only Love can. Using Scripture to condemn others harms both the speaker AND the hearer. So stop doing it. For your own good.