I used to read the bible to gain knowledge; to find the ways scripture confirmed that my theology is correct. Now, I read it to be changed. The book of Hebrews describes the Word of God thusly: “[It] is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12)
I so often used the scripture as a weapon against other believers, in order to show that I was right and they were wrong.
I know many believers who feel that they are the only ones who really, truly understand the character of God. That they have discovered the sacred secrets hidden in the scriptures. And they have the theology and proof texts ready to prove it.
I’ve realized that the word of God is actually a weapon meant to be used on myself.
I love the song “The War Inside” by Switchfoot. It talks about the fact that living this spiritual life has less to do with fighting “what’s out there”, and more to do with what is inside of us. Here’s part of the chorus.
I am the war inside
I am the battle line
I am the rising tide
I am the war I fight
N.T. Wright also talks about this issue in Evil and the Justice of God. The line between good and evil isn’t something that we look and and pick a side to stand on. It runs right down the middle of each of us.
Paul himself talks about this in Romans 7: “…when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind…”
Reading the Bible isn’t about winning arguments, it’s about looking in a mirror that shows me what I could be. What I should be, then letting God work to bring that person into existence.
I’m no longer interested in getting people to agree with me. Instead, I’m interested in being more like Jesus.