Everyday Awe

Please Talk about the Bible

 

I have noticed a trend that is bothering me.

 

Too many people feel uncomfortable talking about the Bible.

 

The great tools available to help us interpret the Scriptures have somehow become trappings that are stifling our voices.

 

We go to churches with gifted, dynamic, and intelligent speakers. (Or, if we don’t, we listen to podcasts of churches that do.) We read articles and books and blogs by writers who have advanced degrees in biblical history and languages. We interact with professional pastors who are paid to read the Scriptures.

 

We listen and read and study and learn. And, then, after all that absorbing, we feel inadequate.

 

Who am I to talk about the Bible? I don’t know Hebrew or Greek. I am not a trained minister. I am not a gifted theologian. It is not my role.

 

talk about the BibleYes. It is your role. Talking about the Bible is the role of each of us who have a copy of it in our hands.

 

Studying, speaking, and writing about the Bible is not a job best left for the experts.

 

Just to be clear, I believe in the work of biblical experts.

 

I count it a privilege to read the works of theologians and scholars that can deepen my understanding of its words. The Bible is not simple. It is a complicated text entrenched in culture and history. Professionals can shed light on the nuances and difficulties that we didn’t hear about in Sunday School or memory verse drills.

 

But I also believe in the Holy Spirit.

 

The Word of God is alive and active. When we read it, if we allow Him to, God uses the verses to change us. The Bible feeds our souls, convicts us of our sins, inspires us to live differently, and reminds of God’s redemption story.

 

When that happens to you, I want to hear about it. It keeps me accountable to reading the Bible, too. Not because someone is telling me to, but because I am inspired by hearing someone else’s story of why the words of the Scripture matter.

 

That’s not to say that every time we read the Bible there are lightning bolts and fuzzy feelings and rainbows in the sky. Sometimes we walk away frustrated or confused. We wonder why in the world God put that verse or that story in with the rest of the text.

 

When that happens to you, I want to hear about it. It shows me I am not alone in my frustrations. It allows us to wrestle with the Scriptures together instead of question alone. It reminds me that it is okay if I don’t have all the answers and cannot bring everything to a nice and tidy conclusion.

 

When you read the Bible, I want to hear about it.

 

I want to be reminded that the living Holy Spirit weaves these living Words into the living body of His Church. I want to appreciate that reading the Bible is not always about being accurate to the text, but also about being accessible to its power.  I want to be encouraged to keep on reading when I feel like giving up.

 

Talking about the Bible is not the job of professional pastors, it is the work of the God’s people. So please, tell me what you are reading in the Scriptures. You are my pastor, too.

  • http://dialogueventure.com/ John Backman

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant. I have no degree in theology whatever, but occasionally a passage from Scripture strikes me in a way that I’ve never considered before. I run the new idea past a friend who IS seminary trained, and more often than not she finds value in it. So yes, I believe we all have insight to share–and the Bible is sufficiently difficult that we need to hear every last one of them. Great post.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Thank you, John. We do all have insight to share. And we shouldn’t be afraid or intimidated to do so. Sometimes seminary can so fill a person’s mind with the academia that it dulls his or her heart to the wonder. Keep sharing- with “trained” and “untrained” folks alike.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    Thank you for this post. I too often wonder at the effectiveness of my writing ministry simply because of the lack of “official” qualification on my part. I keep telling myself that God qualifies the called, but somehow I still slip back under the weight of feeling unqualified. Yet, I constantly have the Holy Spirit telling me truths from scripture and applying them to everyday life. With that, I can’t help but express those revelations, even if no one reads them. A friend recently encouraged me to seek my qualification through faith, I’m still working on that concept, but I am seeing more and more that I just have to trust that God qualifies me even if I don’t feel it. More and more, I am having to ignore my fleshly feelings and move forward in God’s truth. I said all of that to say that I am greatly encouraged by this post today. Amazing what transparency and connection with each other’s struggles does to encourage fellow believers, isn’t it? And, what do you know, that’s what scripture tells us to do!

    • http://dialogueventure.com/ John Backman

      Amen to all that, Kari. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I’ve lived through this same wrestling with doubt, writing, and vocation, and I’ve found it a long, hard slog. It’s encouraging to hear someone else lives with this too. Blessings on you.

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        Yes, hearing that someone else struggles in a similar was as me is very encouraging. Thank you for saying something, John. Transparency has truly been opening up doors to more connection for me, and I am so glad God is leading me down a more connected path.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      If you ever don’t feel qualified, Kari, remember the first disciples. They were not the religious leaders, but fishermen. They didn’t have studious minds as much as they had willing hearts. I’m glad you were encouraged by this post. God can use you no matter what your background.

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        Trust me, I think of the disciples often when I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Loren Pinilus’ recent post at Life of a Steward entitled “How to Tackle Unproductive Fears the Biblical Way” helped me to make a tremendous realization in this area. Namely, that I am inadequate. BUT, God will be with me. Simple but amazing truth that I feel is going to amplify my life.

        Here’s the link to Loren’s post: http://www.lifeofasteward.com/tackle-unproductive-fears-biblical-way/

  • Kristen E

    Right now my church is reading through the New Testament in 90 days, which is about three chapters a day. They post the reading on the church fb page every day and encourage people to leave comments as to what stood out or what questions they have. It’s a cool way to start a dialogue — and see that the non-pastors have incredible insights, too.
    Today I was reading John 6-8 and was so encouraged about how Jesus is trying to clearly tell the people that he is the Son of God. In the other gospels (that I have read throughout the past few weeks as a part of this endeavor), I think he is a bit more cryptic, so it’s been cool to see how this gospel conveys his speech in a different way.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Thank you so much for sharing, Kristen! The NT in 90 days is intense. I love the idea of having people respond to what they are reading via the church FB page. And, I am with you on the Gospel of John. If it’s okay to have favorites, it is my favorite of the Gospels. I love the I am statements Jesus makes about who He is and why He came.

  • Erin Umland

    Thanks Steph! You motivated me to share my thoughts on a verse that was pivotal in my decision to do mission year. Luke 9:23-27. Specifically, “for whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
    My life right now is comfortable. Ive found ways to fit in with the Christian culture of Blackhawk Church. I feel like God is asking me to lose this comfortable and safe life to follow him. There is so much I love about Madison. I have a great view on Lake Monona, amazing groups of friends/ community, a great church that is challenging, but I know something is missing. I feel like all of these wonderful parts of Madison and my life right now are a wire fence. I can see Jesus as a spectator, but he hasn’t been invited in to my yard. I wouldn’t call my yard super neat– but I haven’t invited this stranger in because what would he do to it? Who else have I locked out that he might invite in if I let him in. I feel like the choice to do mission year would be inviting God into my yard. Later on in that passage Jesus states “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” That is what I am hoping my yard will turn into.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Erin! Those verses are scary, and so easy to pass by. It is encouraging to hear from someone who is convicted by them to move towards action and sacrifice in her life. I am so excited for you guys to do mission year. I am confident that God will use your lives, and your willing hearts, to make an impact.

  • http://twitter.com/Vaderalman Mark Allman

    Great post Stephanie. I am bothered at times that we give those that are “trained” more rights at how God’s word speaks because of their studies. I think if one pours themselves into the word and is open to the spirit that God gives understanding and the word is active in their lives. I do know there is worth in knowing languages and deeper academic study but I believe that a common man may be able to shed as much light on God’s word based on his life experiences; his studies; his being open to the Spirit and his willingness to dig deeper. We are told to search the word to decide if what someone has taught is trustworthy or not. I think one should be careful giving someone a pass on this test because of their degree or position. Regardless of our degrees, position, status, age, gender, or the like we all should be willing to learn from others and they from us and we should know the importance of our personal study of God’s word for ourselves. The precious blood of Jesus qualifies us all.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      You make so many great points here, Mark. The Word of God is active, and we need to be careful not to reduce it to a passive book that we study. And, all of us have a responsibility to give careful search of the Scriptures to see if the teaching we are receiving is in line with what God’s Word actually says. He calls each of us to be active participants in our faith and growth.