Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why study the Bible?

I've always been taught that studying the Bible needed to have a direct impact on my life. For one thing, studying the Bible for knowledge's sake only leads to self righteousness.

I believe that is true. But, maybe I do need to rethink why I do it. My Bible study does seem to be very "me" centered. Even if I am trying to learn how to become more humble, more generous, less sinful at the root of all of this might be my own selfishness.

Do I study the Bible to know God? Or do I study the Bible to be a better person? Should I do both? Does the latter reason turn the Bible into a self help book?

Right now I'm reading The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright. It is stretching my view of Jesus and revealing my own ignorance. Honestly, for someone who is the cornerstone of my faith, he gets very little attention. Usually, I skip to the letters, those are a lot more actionable. Jesus's words seem more mysterious. More difficult. Even if I think I get the main idea of his parable, there is usually a sentence in there that makes me think I'm missing something.

But I think God really wants us to know Jesus. To "get" him. For one thing, he devotes four books of the Bible to the same story. So here I am reading a book WAY over my head, and right now I don't have a lot to implement in my daily life for all this work. No three step plans. No actionable items.

For several days I've been in the dark. And maybe that is okay. Because over the past several days my study has centered on knowing Christ for Christ's sake. Just like I know Eric for Eric's sake, or Caleb for Caleb's sake. I admit that often I do want to know Eric for my sake, but at the heart of that is my own selfishness.

But I do know that I would be offended if I had written a book about me and all that Eric asked was, "Well, what does this have to do with my life?"

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