Our study of “the Story” has begun! We are moving rapidly through the earliest stories of our faith. I hope that you have been able to pick up a copy of “the Story” and are reading the chapter for each week. We have had quite a few people join us for Bible study – and there’s room for more! Come join us at any one of the three studies: 10 AM Tuesday, 6 PM Wednesday, or after church on Sunday.
Something special happens when we study the Bible together. As we read the scriptures and share our insights with each other, we find that our own learning is enriched by the experiences and ideas of those who are studying with us.
I remember a Bible study I attended many years ago. I was an outspoken young 20-something, and frankly thought that any church-led Bible study was probably not going to teach me anything. I’d taken classes on the Bible in college, and suspected there wasn’t much new in the texts for the day, which happened to be the first two parables in Luke 15 (the lost sheep and the lost coin.) I clearly hadn’t read theologian Michael Green’s comments on parables. He writes,
“Parables are not meant to pat us on the back, but to give us a kick in the pants. They are not intended to comfort us, but to challenge us and change us. Parables speak out against the status quo. . .Parables are demonstrators waving signs of protest, speaking out against our ways of thinking, our traditional ways of experiencing and obeying God, our spiritual institutions.”
I should not have been surprised when a simple question that our Bible study leader asked, “what do we learn about God in this parable?” brought me to a new and deeper understanding of my own faith as we discussed this question together. I realized that some of what I brought to studying the Bible was my own bias – and it was not found in the text at all. Isn’t that an interesting observation? That little Sunday morning Bible study with eight people around the table led me to study my Bible in a new way. I began to try to carefully strip away what I thought the text was saying from what the text really says.
So what was my simple observation that Sunday morning? That I had been interpreting parables about men as being about God, and the parables about women as being about human beings. Yet these two parables, side by side, dealt with the same theme (searching for the one that is lost.) One has a male protagonist, another a female. Was I making a distinction that the text did not make? What do you think?
If you have the opportunity, study the Bible with another person. Ask good questions of each other, and expect that God’s Holy Spirit will find ways to open your heart to God in new ways.