scripture: my journey to find illumination in the familiar… part I

A little while ago I engaged in a bit of an experiment; I decided that I would fast from Scripture. Pretty crazy, eh? Let me explain why I decided to try this…

In high school I was an influential leader in my youth group. I mentored peers, I led worship, and I even led a small group. Because of this, I was reading the Bible a lot to try to understand it and find answers for my life and for the lives of the people around me (I got a little judgmental and legalistic at times, as we all did).

After high school I went to Bible College to study with the hopes of becoming a music pastor. My time at Rocky Mountain College was fantastic… I learned a lot and grew a lot. I made fantastic friends and met my wonderful and beautiful wife (love you!).

However, after six years of studying I found it nearly impossible to engage with the Bible without wrestling with minutiae to “figure out” it’s true theological intent. It had become a textbook to me. It had also become really familiar. It felt like every time I would pick it up I would read something that I had read a hundred times before, and that was… really… boring.

This all made me feel really guilty, I mean, this was the Word of God, you don’t call the Word of God boring. So I prayed that God would make the Word come alive to me in a new way. I prayed that the Spirit would open my eyes to see the wonder and life-changing truth in it’s pages. But, alas, nothing changed. I still read it with “theological” eyes, and it still made my “theological” eyes sleepy.

I was at a conference in Kelowna and before one of the large group sessions the “MC” got up and held out the bible and said “The Word of God”. He then went on to explain how back in the olden days the people were so starved for scripture that when the rabbi would bring the scriptures out to read them in the synagogue people would cheer. He then admonished us to have that same enthusiasm towards scripture and made us cheer when he read it.

The whole thing struck me as a little silly, not because scripture isn’t worth cheering for, but because it seemed like we weren’t acknowledging the reasons for our apathy and were just trying to drum up false emotion where no genuine emotion could be found (consequently, it was the most self-conscious cheer I have ever been a part of). How can we cheer for scripture like it is the greatest of treasures when we daily treat it like it is the most common of trinkets.

Think about it, we toss scripture around like it’s penny candy. We put it on t-shirts, we put it on billboards, we put it on bumper stickers, we put it on breath mints, we use it to prove whatever “opinion-of-the-month” we subscribe to and try to trump those who disagree with us by flippantly throwing it around. How many times am I guilty of using scripture to vehemently try to prove why no one should listen to the Jonas Brothers (or some other trivial opinion confused for morality)? That’s a bad example, but I think you understand. We all, at one time or another, are guilty of trying to assert our opinions with the moral absoluteness of scripture.

I’m not saying that there can’t be or isn’t any personal significance in the way we use scripture. The verses that are chosen for tattoos, or the life-verses that are framed are very significant for the people displaying them. But let’s be honest, most of us are constantly surrounded by the presence (and some would say abuse) of scripture; it’s a little forced to have us pretend that it is some special treat. And over time, when the holy is made common place, the holy is lost.

…stay tuned for part II

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2 thoughts on “scripture: my journey to find illumination in the familiar… part I

  1. I agree with you, Shawn. It’s easy to ‘turn the profound into the profane’. I can especially understand what you said about getting distracted by the theological minutiae.I’ve experienced some pretty interesting Scripture reading sessions at the end of an ‘accidental’ scripture fast(aka not getting around to reading the Bible for a long time…). Typically I feel incredibly refreshed, without taking away any new intellectual understanding.I often wonder at the power that the Scriptures have to affect us when we’re not necessarily conscious of such a thing happening.- Josh

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