A woman was too ill to attend worship one Sunday morning so she sent her young daughter to church and told her to remember the text for the sermon. When she came home, the little girl said that the text was “Don’t be scared. You’ll get your quilt.”
The woman was perplexed by this and finally called the pastor for clarification. She was informed that the text was “Fear not. Your comforter will come.”
Sometimes we get things mixed up. Sometimes things get lost in translation. And sometimes we even miss the point entirely. And nowhere is this more the case than with the bible.
It is often said that the bible can be used to support any position or cause and that’s true. The bible holds the foundational stories of our faith. It was written over a considerable length of time by many different people with different agendas. Many things that were written in the same vein but were not included in the bible. In the end, though, the whole enterprise of reading the bible should have one simple goal: To get to know God.
This begs the question: What kind of God is revealed in the bible? A wrathful God? A loving God? An absent God? A present God? A partisan God? A universal God?
The reality is that these questions can only be answered by the person reading the bible. And the truth is, each person tends to arrive at their answers—their picture of God—by finding what they are looking for.
That is to say, if you are looking for a wrathful God in the bible, you will find one. If you are looking for a loving God in the bible, you will find one. The God of the bible is often too-long-absent from human affairs and at other times ever-present. God chooses sides and plays no favorites.
You find what you are looking for in the bible. So, what are you looking for? What are you expecting to find?
This is why reading scripture requires being in touch with yourself. It is really the only way the bible can be of value. By acknowledging your own bias, you are better able to broaden your connection to God through scripture. Then, if you expect God to be judgmental, you may be surprised by God’s abundant love. Similarly, if you expect God to be all-loving, the times when God seems to act unfairly in the bible are opportunities for discernment and growth.
Our faith is rooted in the bible we should have a keen interest in it. Out of that interest should come one’s own encounter with a God who journeys with us on our path to a deeper connection to the divine.
See you in church,