There’s a problem with how we read the Bible. We miss things. Important things. We focus on the wrong parts. We forget what’s core and remember the peripherals.
We read a passage like the fruit of the Spirit, and all we take away is, “Here’s an essential list of character qualities for me to begin building into my life. I better start working on this.”
We read that faith without works is dead, and we zone in on doing works without doing the hard work, the foundational work, of having faith.
We have the whole story before us, but we skip to the end without poring over the chapters that come before it.
There is an order to these things, to this life-with-Christ, yet unfortunately we have a tendency to mess that order up and then wonder why we’re so messed up. This clip from “The Matrix” illustrates our problem when reading the Bible.
We are like Neo.
Neo is told that if he can “free his mind,” or have faith, then he will be able to jump a city block and do other seemingly impossible things. But before he has faith, he attempts to do what can only be accomplished with faith.
No surprise, he fails. No surprise, we do, too.
We read principles and commands throughout Scripture and we add them to our lives (just as the Pharisees did). We know if we are Christian, then this is how we are to live. But we have not done the foundational work that is required first.
We have not fully grasped or embraced grace. We are not completely convinced that God loves us as we are right now. We do not totally believe when Christ on the cross triumphantly cried out, “It is finished!” that it really is finished.
We are trying to live the Christian life without surrendering all of our life, without vulnerably trusting Christ with every area of life. We are trying to live the Christian life on our own, because we haven’t figured out yet how to abide with Christ or walk with the Holy Spirit.
So, the issue isn’t reading the Bible. The real issue is that as we read we tend to jump too far ahead of ourselves; we put the cart before the horse. Our foundation continues to be our own efforts to get it right, instead of getting grace… which means we’re not living by faith.
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Question: Can you recognize in yourself a default tendency to move ahead without God? To try to get it right on your own rather than living by grace?