A couple of caveats before I continue. I do not claim to be an expert or even knowledgeable about the Bible. I am a beginner in the true sense of the word. EFM for four years under the wonderful tutelage of Joanne and Beth merely got me past kindergarten. Second, what I say about reading the Bible should not be interpreted as applying to the Koran, the writings of Confucius, or Bhagavad Gita. I have not read any of them, so I do not know whether God speaks through them or not, although I believe he probably does. At times, God speaks to us through what we see, hear, and smell. I can read a line in a book by Conroy, Nouwen, or even Dan Jenkins and find something spiritual, so why wouldn’t he speak through what others believe are holy texts? (Sorry about the caveats, it’s the lawyer in me, you should never begin with an apology, but I just did.) But back to the Bible.
Yesterday, I talked about the way to read the Bible is to use it to enquire of God. There is a wonderful little blue book by a French Nun, later burned at the stake, who suggests the best way to read the Bible is to simply open it up, begin to read until you come to a passage where God begins to speak to you. I apologize I can’t remember its name, and I gave away my last copy.
Bonhoeffer suggests we first simply receive the words allowing them to linger in our minds, because they are words from someone we love; and just as these words reveal more of the person who said them as we go on, so it will be with the words of the Bible. We are to be much like Mary, “pondering them in our heart.” If we venture to enter the world of the Bible, as though in it God is speaking to us, we will learn to rejoice in what we hear.
People who throw the words of the Bible at you as a weapon, who use the words to justify exclusion or judgment, are not listening to God, they are talking. The moment their mouths open their ears close. The Bible is a means to communicate with God and he with us. It’s use as an instrument of hate, isolation, or anger goes against the nature of God – unconditional love for all.