Thursday, 19 November 2009

What is this scripture doing?

In the last few months of Relay, I've been struck repeatedly by the subtle misconceptions I have often brought to Bible study. The word 'study' is partly the problem. I associate it with intellectual study (but very little action) and my degree. But again and again, I've been reminded that Bible study is simply not meant to be an intellectual exercise. A few days ago I chatted to one pastor whose analogy is very helpful. If I told you that the building we were in was burning down and you nodded and continued with what you were doing, you would not have understood because you did nothing about it. Similarly, when we approach the Bible, intellectual assent is not enough, because really understanding the passage will lead to something happening, a response taking place.

For that reason, we need to always be asking, 'what is this scripture doing?' Of course, this only comes with having grappled seriously with its meaning first, but mere comprehension would miss the point. I'm thinking about that at the moment as I study Colossians 1v15-20. This fantastic paragraph about Christ's attributes could easily turn into a listing exercise. The challenge is to draw out our worship, praise and encouragement as we gaze on Him.


  1. I've had similar thoughts recently (well, not so recently), and I wrote about them here: True Belief It's still a struggle for me, particularly when I'm studying the Bible for myself, and not with others. Colossians 1:15-20 was brilliant with students last week though - we just enjoyed gazing on Christ together. Good times :)

  2. Also, I should add I've been enjoying your blogging, and need to make some of your recipes!

  3. Hey Harri,
    Thanks for your post. Its amazing how we can just read the bible and take nothing in. Its so important to pray that the Holy Spirit will open our blind hearts and that the Word will change our hearts. Do you know what else is amazing? I can read the same scripture at different times and be challenged in different ways. The word is a double edge sword and its wonderful, even a bit painful at times. Glad Relay is going well ;) xxx