This is the fourth post in a series about finding sanctifying grace in the Bible instead of using it for our own purposes. Some of the content of these posts is from the International Bible Series based on a lesson I taught at our Annual Conference this year.
This is a quote from Thomas Steagald:
Reading scripture, especially familiar scripture, calls us to “suspend belief,” set aside presumed clear and simple meaning, at least until the text should if it does, teach us that particular meaning again. Of course, it may not.”
We are so familiar with the passages of scripture that before we even start studying, we think we know what the passage is about. This quote calls us to suspend that belief – to open our hearts and minds to hear the scripture anew, and to allow God to lead us to whatever understanding we are called to hear.
We talked about parables in yesterday’s post; they were told by Jesus in order to move the hearer into active thought – to question what they thought they knew. Parables can do the same for us if we allow them to, and can help us in the never ending job of discernment. Going back to William Barclay – he says that parables can reveal truth to those who want to see it, and it conceals truth from those who do not wish to see it.
I think that sometimes we are so entrenched in what we have been taught, in what we already think, that we are afraid to listen to God through the passage anew, because, heaven forbid, God might be saying something to us to challenge what we know, or to move us to a new, better, deeper understanding. But do we want that? If we don’t, then I think we will never hear God in scripture – we will only hear ourselves.
In other words, a parable, or Bible study, can be means of grace – sanctifying grace – a way for God to transform us, and help us to grow – if we allow them to be.