Feed on the Scriptures

July 20, 2018

In order to read the Scriptures adequately and accurately, it’s necessary at the same time to live them. Not to live them as a prerequisite to reading them, and not live them as a consequence of reading them, but to live them as we read them.

Reading the Scriptures isn’t an activity discrete from living the gospel; it is integral to it. It means letting one another have a say in everything we’re saying and doing. It’s as easy as that. And as hard.

This kind of reading has been named by our ancestors as lectio divina, often translated “spiritual reading.” It means not only reading the text but also meditating on the text, praying the text, and living the text. It is reading that enters our souls the way food enters our stomachs, spreads through our blood, and transforms us. Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we feed on it. We assimilate it, taking it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in the company of the Son.

Words spoken and listened to, written and read are intended to do something in us, to give us health and wholeness, vitality and holiness, wisdom and hope.

We open this book and find that on page after page it takes us off guard, surprises us, and draws us into its reality, pulls us into participation with God on his terms.

My task is to bring into awareness that the biblical text, in the course of revealing God, pulls us into the revelation and welcomes us as participants in it. What I want to call attention to is that the Bible, all of it, is livable. It is, in fact, the text for living our lives.

The Scriptures not only reveal everything of who God is but also everything of who we are. And this revelation is done in such a way as to invite participation on both sides, of author and reader.

This may be the single most important thing to know as we come to read and study and believe these Holy Scriptures: this rich, alive, personally revealing God as experienced in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, personally addressing us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, at whatever age we are, in whatever state we are—me, you, us. Christian reading is participatory reading, receiving the words in such a way that they become interior to our lives, the rhythms and images becoming practices of prayer, acts of obedience, ways of love.