My Christian life has been one of a journey of discovery.. And one of the biggest discoveries is one of constantly learning. I have discovered that there are a number of ways of learning. One involves the head and the mind. The other for want of a better term, is learning from the heart. One method has a more cerebral approach and the other has a more experiential basis to it.
When I first got saved I read the Bible through the lens of a personal experiential foundation. Everything was like God’s personal word to me. My spiritual life was dynamic. The Scriptures were constantly fresh.And I was a powerhouse of faith.
Then I discovered an exegetical method of reading the Scriptures. A method that took into account the genre. The culture and the context. Argh! The context was so important. And as I started to read through the Scriptures in a exegetical framework, I discovered new heights and levels of discovery. And in doing so, discovered that many of my previous beliefs and understandings of the Scriptures were being changed and challenged.
I admit that this caused my devotional reading of Scripture to change. And instead of the word being a personal message to myself; I was constantly working out what the word was to those it was written to and then working out what did that mean for me. Overall this is a great method of reading and understanding the Scriptures. But, something changed within me. I found instead of my faith growing; it started to shrink. Instead of being dynamic, it started to become dry.
I have been reading some material on meditating on the Scriptures. It involves chewing through a verse, or a story; imagining that I am the one directly involved. That I am being personally spoken to, or being affected in this passage. That God is speaking his word directly to me.
And this is what I have found. We need to read the Scriptures in both ways. It’s not one or the other. We need to be careful that we don’t pit one above the other; as through using the one method will create an imbalance of Spiritual life.
It’s important to know the history, the genre, the context. For this is where we get our doctrines and form our theologies from. But, Scripture is more then just a history book. It’s God’s word to us. His word through which the Spirit of God inspires and speaks to us. God is also a personal God. And through the meditating on his word, we too can grow in the personal experiential knowledge of God also.
It’s through the exegetical reading of Scripture we gain right knowledge. It’s through the meditation on Scripture we experience God working in a deeper way as we practice the ways of God. Both are needed.
The words of an old pastor come to mind.
All Word we dry up.
All Spirit we blow up. 100% of both, we grow up.