“We read to know we are not alone.”CS Lewis
Everything started with the word. That’s what John declares in the first line of his Gospel. The Bible itself is called the Word of God, and this alone should excite us to read it more. But it was written a long time ago, in other languages and that can make it a bit tricky to comprehend at times. I have spent a lot of years trying to understand it better and read many books written to help us do this. However, I have found that not every expert agrees about what certain passages mean. Nevertheless, all this reading and conversation has helped, because when I have gone back to the bible again these thoughts and ideas have highlighted things I could not have seen on my own, and I have been able to come to clearer conclusions than I could if I had studied alone.
What I read in, and have learned from the Bible is really exciting. Every time I see something I have not seen before, every time two parts connect together to show just a little more of a much bigger picture I feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising. Studying God’s word is an obsession and an adventure, and one that is best enjoyed with others who share our passion and excitement. Discovery and learning are also community experiences as often we learn best by speaking out our uncertainties and forming answers to questions that others have asked.
The Bible is the story of how God has revealed himself to many people over thousands of years. When we read it we have the opportunity to meet him ourselves in the words written by these ancient authors. When the New Testament writer Paul described all scripture as being, ‘breathed out by God’ he was talking about the same breath that spoke and called the universe into existence. It isn’t surprising then that so many people have discovered power and riches in its words, and found their lives changed simply by reading them. However, if we read something many times we can become too familiar with it, and yet these well-known passages can tell us more when we study them together, look more closely and maybe breathe in more deeply.
I need to wear glasses to be able to read, their lenses bring the words into focus so I can see them. It has been said that we all see the world through the lenses of our own experiences, and our understanding of how the world works. The Bible writers lived in a world very different from ours, they spoke different languages and understood the world differently to the way we do. They had no concept of many things we take for granted; science, freedom, rights, democracy, capitalism, social media, natural laws, individualism, and many other cultural ideas would be alien to them. They were not ignorant, or uncultured, or even uncivilised. They were simply from a different time to us, and so we must be aware of the lenses we are looking through if we are to understand what they have to say. But in many other ways, however, they were human beings just like us.
My plan is that through these Dales Faith Word Studies, we will have an opportunity to hear more from God’s word, as we study it together. If you have never read the Bible before, or if you have read much of it many times, then my hope is that we can learn from each other and in doing so, hear what God is saying to us today, through his word.