Each year I encourage all of you to join me in reading the Bible. In fact, I put up a reading plan each week with a schedule that will take you through the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once in a calendar year. I do this because I believe it is vitally important to spend time in Scripture on a very regular basis. It is in those moments with God, that we are in communion with our Creator and placing ourselves in a position to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Last week we I read a blog post from Fr. Richard Rohr as he talked about how he reads Scripture. It gave me the occasion to ask myself the same question. It is one thing, and an important thing, to read Scripture. But it is equally important how you read Scripture.
We are called to use the God given intellect we have to not only read what Scripture tells us, but interpret how that Scripture informs our lives. We are to take what we read and apply it to our lives in whatever context that may involve.
Fr. Rohr feels that “Without an honest and declared hermeneutic, we have no consistency or authority in our interpretation of the Bible.” If we are not taking what we read and passing it through a means or method for interpretation, we are not allowing the power of Scripture to wash over us and transform us.
For me, the all-encompassing love of God is a powerful hermeneutic. Everything I read in Scripture, I ask myself, how does this help me love more like God? I want everything I do, everything I believe, to flow from the love of God. Jesus even tells us the greatest commandment is love, “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39, NRSV).
That means when I look to Scripture I am looking for love, for God’s love. I take those verses that speak of judgment and exclusion and seek to understand what value they have for me in my pursuit to love like Christ. That means there are some verses that were intended for a specific group, for a specific time, and not meant to be used for all of history. If what I read does not support Jesus’ call to love God and love all people, I chose to not spend much time with it.
Folks, as you read Scripture I encourage you to use your own hermeneutic. Do not read just to tick an item off your list, but read with an eye for interpretation. Read to see what it is God is trying to tell you. Read so that your faith journey may be strengthened and deepened. God is seeking you out, speaking to you through Scripture, do not miss that opportunity to speak and spend time with the One that loved you first.
Have a great week and I will see you soon!