Not too long ago, I was invited by a friend on facebook to take up the ‘Bible challenge’. The way it works, (as I’ve understood it) is that you choose to share some scriptures every day for seven days and each day nominate two of your friends to take up the challenge for the next seven days. Ashamedly, I have to admit, due to my frame of mind at that time or sheer laziness (oh yes, I remember I also did not have reliable internet), I did not take up the challenge.
Sometime later, I got another challenge on the Bible, this time to read through with a couple of friends in 90 days. Now, this was a real challenge because it translates to a lot of reading per day which would call for quite some commitment and focus. This time round, for a reason I may not disclose here (even online walls have ears :)), I accepted the challenge even though I knew it will take strength beyond what I can muscle up myself.
It was during our initial meeting to pray together and share the schedule that we were quickened on two ways of approaching the reading of the Bible; ‘As a life manual’, and ‘as a sketch or picture of a greater reality’.
As a life manual
There was a time I had a very trying moment having been ‘dumped’ by my girlfriend then. We were quite close with the sister and I thought I’d appeal to her to convince her to not leave me. She was torn between which side to be on, her sister’s or mine and she told me as such and thought to encourage me to read psalms to keep my heart at ease. According to her, if I read the psalms especially where David encouraged himself in the Lord, I’d better be able to handle the heartache. I’ve also heard it said (actually believed and propagated the same) that the bible is like a manufacturers manual, where one makes reference to understand how the item (in this case man) works.
While this is a way of learning the scriptures and has a way of helping someone , it falls a little short by one aspect albeit an important one. It is people’s need focussed instead of God’s plan centered. Imagine Jesus when He was facing death asking himself or his disciples, “which scriptures speak about trials, and what do they say I should do?” Instead, it is recorded in the gospel more than once concerning Him, “this happened that it may be fulfilled according to the scriptures.”
As a sketch or picture of a greater reality
The scriptures as Jesus described them, are a means to an end and not an end to themselves;
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31)
“39 You study[a] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5)
“44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24
I believe this is a better way of viewing the scriptures as it opens our hearts to dependency on the Holy Spirit to unveil Christ through them. May it be our portion that as we yield to His interpretation of the scriptures,
“He will take of Christ and give it to us”
“bring us to all truth”
Then and only then, will we be able to live by the whole counsel of God
And that ,
“…we may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that we have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that we may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (col 2:2-3 paraphrase)
And that ,
“what is written was a shadow of things to come, the reality is found in Christ.” (Col 2:18)
We later watched this testimony of Christ revealing Himself in the scriptures, which if you have time, I invite you to watch here.