On Twitter the other day, Michael Hidalgo said, "We need to engage the Bible on its terms and not on ours."
His words struck me as true and sped up repentance in my life that was a long time in the making and longtime overdue.
Over the last few months as I've read the Scriptures I've noticed my mistake.
I superimpose my situation, my preferences, my circumstance, my feelings, my history, my ethnicity, my upbringing, and my politics on what the Word of God is saying. And it keeps leading me to a self-centered faith.
And chances are you do too.
Yes, at times it's absolutely appropriate and beautiful and God wants His Words to be extremely personal.
But, I have a feeling that overall "me" (or you) as the center of my reading makes me interpret the verses in absolute error.
"I" becomes more central in the story and God fades away.
And get this: Chances are that if you approach the Bible on your terms, you will be left frustrated. Why? Because everything you thought the Bible was saying to you about your situation won't happen the way you thought you read it would. Promise. You'll be disappointed if you are in the center.
So how can we avoid the mistake?
Fragments won't help you get the best picture. Read chunks at a time. And not only that, get to know the setting, the author and the audience. That will clear up a lot of it. You'll be able to see what is meant for a specific person, place, time and circumstance as well as what is more universal in nature.
Be leery when you start thinking too much about you and too little about Him. Be leery when you are trying to "fit" (force) your situation into the Scriptures. Be leery when you approach the Bible trying to find something other than God.
And then guess what?
If you can keep God at the center, if you can engage the Bible on its own terms, chances are that you'll find everything you were looking for.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:34).
CC Image • Steve Snodgrass on Flickr