Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Five things I want my teenagers to know about the Bible

My Sunday school class has spent the last two months competing in a Bible-reading challenge.  By finding Scriptures that spoke to them throughout the week and sharing them with us on Sunday, they earned points and had an opportunity to win a handful of gift cards.  But in the end, the point of our contest wasn't for them to take trip to Starbucks on me.  It was about laying a foundation, and I hope they haven't missed the point.

If I could share five things I wish my girls knew about the Bible, it would be these:

1) It's okay if you don't always understand it. God is so much bigger than anything we can comprehend, and the same goes for His Word. It's deep. It's complicated. It's seemingly contradictory at times. But it's also revealing, enlightening, and incredibly beautiful. Don't let a fear of failure get in your way of experiencing it. Even if nothing makes sense at first glance, the time hasn't been wasted. And on that note...

2) The Bible is something to be experienced, not mastered. We can study the history, the geography, and the people to our heart's content, but if we're coming to it from a purely intellectual standpoint, we're going to miss out on all that it has to offer. Learn to just "be" with your Bible. Read without expectation. Soak it up. Enjoy it.

3) Luke 6:45 says that our heart brings forth our words, and it's the same with God. If you want to get to know His heart, who He is at His very core, get to know His words. You'll learn what His passions are, what hurts Him, what brings Him joy. Don't listen to who others say He is- read it for yourself!

4) The Bible might be an ancient book, but it's alive and relevant even today.  No two people will read a passage the exact same way.  We'll notice different things, have different questions, learn from different situations.  That's because God meets us where we are, and no two people are in the same place.  And no one person stays in the same place forever.  What God spoke to you through a particular story last year or last month might be totally different than what He has for you today. You've grown since then, and there will always be something new for you to discover.

5) Context is everything.  Some instructions in the Bible are meant for all people at all times; others aren't.  Some visions are warnings, while others are true prophecies.  Without knowing the time and place a particular passage was written, it's impossible to know the difference.  So while there is a time to read for no other reason than to experience God's presence, there is also a time to study.  Find a commentary or other book that will give you some insight to the context, or simply use Google. However you learn, looking at the whole picture versus just a single verse will open you you up to so much more than meets the eye.

The Bible can be incredibly intimidating when you first start to get into it.  For people who don't like to read, it contains a whole lot o' words.  But with only a few minutes and an open heart, those words can change your life.  So be brave.  Open it up, and go exploring.  There's a good chance God has an adventure waiting for you!


Erin Kelly said...

Yes! I think too many times scripture is used out of context. It is a constant learning process that no one will ever master or learn all there is to know. Wonderful thought!

Jen said...

Thanks, Erin! I love that there is always something new to learn. :)