Sometimes we think of the Bible as combination of an ancient encyclopedia and fortune teller. That is to say, many of us read the Bible in order to absorb it’s knowledge so that when we are faced with a situation we can fire off a few Bible verses to make sense of the situation. There is a respect given to those who are fluid in their knowledge of the Bible that often times we think that the more you absorb the more you must really know the Bible. There is a comfort in absorbing the Bible, but absorbing the Bible is easier than being absorbed by the Bible.
When we absorb the Bible often fall into the trap of using the Bible as a tool for argument. We reference the scriptures that are used as bullet points to try to make the argument. However, the Bible is not a tool for argument, it is closer to being a tool for conversation. It is a collection of conversations over time and space even into today. There are numerous conversations going on in the Bible that to pick up and begin reading at any location would be like walking into a party that was well underway and try to jump into a conversation. We don’t know how the conversation got to this point, but we are now a part of it and we are invited to participate.
Just as we are absorbed in conversation, keen readers of the Bible are absorbed by it. You don’t jump into the conversation with your own agenda and topics, the conversation has already begun, the direction is well underway. When we are absorbed by the Bible we are invited to take a different perspective and world view. We are invited to participate, rather than dictate the terms of the conversation.
When we are absorbed by the Bible we are shaped, formed, transformed. We are, like clay, molded and fired. We are strangers in a foreign land and dependent upon the hospitality of our conversation partners.
Here is one way to know if we are absorbing or being absorbed by the Bible – If we believe there is one, and only one, correct interpretation to a scripture then we are absorbing the Bible. If however, we trust that the Bible is a conversation that is influenced by the Holy Spirit, if we believe the Bible is the living word open to new and fresh understanding, a book that speaks life into every age – then we are being absorbed by the Bible.
Absorbing the Bible is much easier, it does not involve much faith or trust at all. Which may be why we are more interested in just absorbing the scriptures than being absorbed by them.