I was reading the Bible the other night and was struck with how the words of the Bible have authority over me. God speaks through these pages, though my Bible is smaller than me. We can hold it in our hand, throw it on the backseat of a car, slip it in a backpack, carry a small one in our back-pocket… but one Bible is stronger and more powerful than all the other forces of the world.
Do we let the Bible have authority over us? As I read the Bible I try to see what’s there, dissect it, interpret it, correlate it with the rest of my knowledge. But as I do this, I can slip into treating the Bible as any other text – figuring out what it says just so I can know, slipping it into categories and systematic theologies without having the humble heart to ask the long and hard first question, “What is God saying here?”
That should teach us to handle the Scriptures carefully and not box-in Scripture into to our preconceived notions. Those of us who are the “Bible scholar” types (or wannabes) need to keep this always at the forefront of our minds. The Bible is the very word of God, transformational, inspired, and authoritative over us. It tells me what to do and say; I don’t tell the Bible what to do and say.
As my hermeneutics professor Dr. Mark Bailey said, “The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity; it was written to change your life. It was written not to make you a smarter sinner, but to make you more like Jesus Christ.”
I hope our heart’s cry can resonate with the Psalmist: “Teach me O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end.” – Psalm 119.33