Reading Wrong, Reading Right (3)
We make a mistake when we come to Scripture, in the first instance, in order to “get something” out of our reading.
It doesn’t matter what that “something” is, either. Some new insight to enlarge our deck of doctrine, something to speak to some need in our lives, some thought to share with another. These are all fine to seek, and there are lots of these “somethings” for us to “get” from the Word of God.
But not first of all.
The Scripture likens itself to a mirror. It’s true that, as we read, meditate, and study in the Bible, we can expect to see ourselves and our needs reflected out to us. We should always be ready to receive these reflections and to act on them accordingly. Sometimes they will speak to shortcomings in our behavior, wrong attitudes, improvements in our understanding, and so forth.
But when we come to Scripture looking for these first of all, they might end up being all we ever find there. And that would be to miss the whole point of reading the Word of God.
For the Scriptures explain that, in the mirror of God’s Word, God Himself is waiting to meet us and to show us His glory (2 Cor. 3.12-18). The Bible is the Word of God. The Spirit inspired that Word. Jesus is the heart and core of the Bible (Jn. 5.39). Percolating with life, just below the surface of the words of sacred Scripture, is the reality of the living God, Who makes His Word living and powerful (Heb. 4.12), especially when He shows Himself to us in His glory.
When we come to the Word of God we should do so with the prayer of Moses on our lips: “Lord, please show me Your glory” (Ex. 33.18). God denied that experience to Moses, except to deposit a small token of His radiant beauty on the face of Moses, from which the people of Israel turned away, asking Moses to cover his face with a veil.
But now the veil that separates us from the glory of God has been removed in Jesus Christ. In Him, and by His Spirit, we come boldly to the Word of God, fully expecting to encounter the living God there, to meet Him in His glory, to be surrounded and subsumed, overwhelmed and enveloped, by the weighty radiance of His eternal being and beauty. We expect to be crushed with fear and joy and wonder and great delight as we are set upon by the presence of the living God, speaking and communing directly with us.
We read wrongly if we read first of all to meet ourselves in Scripture. If ourselves is all we meet, we may never know the transforming power that changes us, from glory to glory, into the image of Jesus Christ.
So when you read, read for the glory. Read and ponder and wait, wait, wait – until the glory of God begins to capture and enthrall you, and you say, like Peter, “Lord, it is good to be here.”