“Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take 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 company with the Son.” – Eugene Peterson in “Eat this Book”
The long slow process of spiritual transformation is nearly identical to the process of physical transformation. A little bit, every day, done mindfully, transforms. The seven minute workout has value. So does a daily mindful reading of the Bible. Small passages work as well as big ones – even better sometimes.
As I said in a recent teaching, it’s Christ who transforms us into generous people, and it’s the Bible that is our primary source of revelation for the journey. Thus if we’re going to take transformation seriously, we need to show up and let God speak to us regularly.
People who digest God’s revelation with the goal of making Christ visible through their lives are the people who are transformed. The people of the French village who courageously sheltered so many Jews had been shaped by the gospel and Bible studies for centuries. Untold millions of lives have been transformed by responding to God’s revelation in the Bible – marriages healed, guidance gained, freedom from addiction realized, broken relationships reconciled, callings discovered, shame and self-loathing exorcised, and much more.
The common thread in all this courage and transformation? Bible study. Don’t think you need to just randomly open the Bible and read it. There are thousands of resources to help you. Here are a few I, and others I trust, use:
Seeking God’s Face was written by a friend, and offers a way to “pray through the Bible in a year”. The readings take about 10 minutes, if you really go slow and pay attention.
Jesus Always, by Sarah Young is a 365 day devotional written as if God is the first person voice. The italicized words are directly from the referenced scriptures. Reading the whole devotional, including the referenced scriptures, takes five minutes.
365 Days with E. Stanley Jones offers daily scripture readings, coupled with writings from a remarkable man who changed the face of Christianity in India and was writing about the kingdom of God long before it became a popular topic. I use it for part of each year.
This is my favorite Bible app, because it has a nearly endless variety of daily reading plans from which to choose. You can also sign up and join the online community which gives you the ability to share meaningful verses with others in the community and let people know when you’ve completed a reading program. I also use this when I’m reading through books of the Bible in my daily reading, as it lets me choose from nearly every English translation ever created.
For a deeper dive into the texts that form the weekly sermon taught at the church I lead, you can click here.
Might I encourage you to join a Bible study? There’s likely one near you, either in the form of a small group or class in your church, or a community Bible study, such as Bible Study Fellowship. Studying together with others helps strengthen the habit of daily Bible study.
Finally, Sacred Space, is a guided reading and prayer book published annually by the Jesuits which offers scripture reading, guided prayer, and a thoughtful question. It is published annually.
In our readings, we’ll always be looking for promises, words of hope, and calls to action. I’ll encourage you to worry less about the sections you don’t understand and the problems that arise. Don’t ignore those, but hold them. Let them ripen over time.
Finally, don’t worry about getting the whole story. Like aerobic capacity in your body, the whole story will fall into place with increasing clarity after months, years, decades of showing up.
With a bent to discover Christ….
And take a step of obedience.
Obedience is the thing, living in active response to the living God. The most important question we ask of this text is not, ‘What does this mean?’ but ‘What can I obey?’ A simple act of obedience will open up our lives to this text far more quickly than any number of Bible studies and dictionaries and concordances. – Eugene Peterson,
Happy Studying, and let me know how you’re doing.