In case you were ever wondering, I write these devotionals and posts to help. Simple enough, right? My hope is that people pick up their Bibles and don’t just learn from them, but learn how to learn. I want to help people develop their own tools to study Scripture. But this can be hard because it is easy for someone like me who grew up in the church, always enjoyed Bible study from a very young age, and went to seminary to take for granted how the Bible can be a difficult read. It is impossible for me to approach Scripture the way someone who has never read it would.
Since I have read it before I can at least pass along some of what I’ve gain and with Year in the Bible I try to bring others along into a deeper appreciation for what God has blessed us with. But it is difficult because I don’t always know the questions people may have or the experiences they bring with them. I’m not always sure how something may be received, such as the use of commentaries.
I like to read a commentary as I go through and often will share insights gained from such reading. I intend for these short quotes or references to shed light on the text. There is an immense amount of study and research that goes into their writing and I think it helps illuminate Paul’s letter which was written almost two thousand years ago. But even as I write that last sentence, I fear that commentaries may intimidate and make people feel inadequate. If to “really” understand the Bible you need several degrees and endless hours to study all the scholarly writings, then how can I read the Bible? Perhaps revealing the great depth of the Bible reminds us that we’re not swimming in the kiddie pool, and then we immediately feel out of our element.
But again, I’m doing this to help and I pray that God works upon you to dispel that spirit of fear. Yes, there is great depth, but God speaks to us in his Word, he blesses us with his Spirit to aid in our comprehension. We could think about all that we don’t know and toss our hands up and walk away. Or we could see the great wisdom that God wants to show us and see its vastness as an adventure. Knowing God is not simplistic thing, but isn’t that more exciting?
If it is an adventure, let us see it as Everest and with great excitement journey together. To take that analogy further, we can recognize that there are Sherpas who guide us along, like those we’ve relied upon for 1 Corinthians like Ken Bailey or NT Wright. But we all go together. In these last few weeks we’ve read of spiritual gifts and have heard that if we do not have the same gifts as they do, that is all right. Some can be guides–teachers with knowledge and understanding. But it is a gift to be shared with the body, to equip others to seek God in his Word, as well.
So, as I write hoping to help, I pray these devotionals equip you to read, not discourages you with the notion that God’s Word is beyond your abilities. May whatever you gain inspire a sense of wonder that leads you to desire still more nourishment from God in Scripture. We’ve one month to go in reading 1 Corinthians and may the Spirit already be stirring in you a hunger to seek out what is next, and perhaps then you can be one to inspire someone else to meet God in his Word.