A Word from Canon Hicks in the October 1, 2017, Adventurer
Reading and studying the Bible, if we’re not careful, can downgrade into mere knowledge acquisition. Sometimes, we can avoid a true encounter with the living, active word of God, settling for the much easier enterprise of collecting Bible facts.
For example, I can know all about Samaritan-Jewish relationships in the first century to help me interpret John 4, but that knowledge can stay safely in my brain without affecting my heart if by the end of the study I’m not myself thirsting for Christ, the living water for my soul. This is why some seminarians I know called seminary “cemetery” – acquiring knowledge about the Bible is no substitute for receiving the work of the lively word. And, even worse, it’s all to easy to puff up with pride about our Bible knowledge, hardening our hearts toward the sharp edges of the sword of the Spirit. We need to study the Bible not only believing it is speaking to us, but working on us.
How can we approach the Scriptures in this way? I believe one key is asking a new kind of question of the text as we read it. Typically, our Bible study methods will encourage us to aim our biblical reflections to answer the question, “What is the Bible saying to me?” This is wonderful, but we can go deeper. We need to also ask, as we study, read, meditate, and repeat, “What is the Bible doing to me?” All of a sudden, a whole new dimension of the word’s activity opens up. We’re then able to allow our biblical reflection to interact with our day-to-day experiences as we walk away from reading the text and step into the routines of our lives. That word follows us, pokes us, prods us, cuts us, heals us. Bible study in this way, feels less like a scholar in her study with some books, and more like Jacob in the wilderness, wrestling with a dark, enticing figure. If you dare, ask God for this kind of living and active encounter as you read the Bible and as it follows you into your everyday.