To Seek and Know and Love
Happy Sunday y'all!
For some reason I've been in the habit of writing after church. This seems to be a good time for me to reflect and go inward with myself about the message, like having a conversation about what it all means - but with myself, as I write and process.
Today, part of our message was about how and why we read the Bible. I guess I can only speak for myself, but I've never read the Bible like a you'd read a text book; I've never studied it in a classroom; I've never come to it thinking, 'I hope to find some good ideas about myself or achieving my happiness in here.'
I guess I've always come to the Bible for God.
To hear from God. To listen to His word. I've always come like it was a lifeline: like if you were underwater, and you came up to the surface for breath. You just feel compelled to (not always, but generally, I mean); you know you have to stay connected. And you know you should, for your own well-being. Whether you seem to 'get' anything from it or not, in the moment. You just come out of the obedience of your heart, an eternal seeker. It's not 'to be a good Christian.' It's for something much more real and literal than that.
Even if the words don't penetrate immediately, the truth has a supernatural way of sitting inside of you, and rooting, and coming for you later in ways that help you forward and give you clarity and peace. Like deepening the discovery: 'ah, this is the insight I was always meant to have.' Maybe it speaks to a part of your soul that you didn't even know you could, or should, activate and live from.
And eventually you come to see that God truly speaks through His word, so you are concerned to tune your heart to hear Him. It's not so much about 'studying' or doing something you 'should,' but about turning your spirit Godward (knowing very well that if you don't, it will turn somewhere else - somewhere much less optimal).
So that said, I'm no Bible scholar. There are probably Christian-educated 5th graders who technically know more about the Bible than I do (but I'm working on it. There's book knowledge and heart knowledge, after all). And I think if we're talking about a relational God, He probably cares a lot more that we want Him first, before we do knowledge (of 'right and wrong,' or legalities, or specifics).
He wants our minds, of course. But to truly have us in all of our humanness He needs our hearts just as much. Knowledge comes from the mind, but wisdom is a matter of the heart.
After hearing in church today about this very thing, oddly enough, I read the above text in a book I'm currently reading, and it struck me. Isn't this why we read anything: to learn and get some heart-knowledge, something which saturates some inner part of us and helps us become something, rather than just know something? We read not to be certain, or infallible - but to be guided and developed; to cultivate a well of knowledge that we can draw from while we live lives that are more complex.
That's the beauty of reading and rooting in the Bible: it pours into you so you can pour into others, so you can live the life it depicts. The beauty of the Bible would never be "to give you facts that you can then use to claim righteousness over others with," or to constantly live successfully and have all the answers when you need them. The Bible gives you wisdom, not answers.
It's more like a spiritual food that nourishes us in ways whose processes happen within.
When we look at the whole world through this lens, which is much of what the Christian life is about, we don't seek for ourselves: we seek for God. Everything is about turning back to Him and not our egos or wants or wills. We begin to line ourselves up with a way of living that actually gets us somewhere - on the right path, not 'right' as in 'correct' or 'better than,' but right as in truthful; the way that seems to bring us integrity and character and wholeness.
And it's nothing profound: once we really learn with our hearts what it means to come up for breath, we're going to want to naturally. There's going to be some undeniable pull toward a life where we remember the source, and we can always return there not to be 'right,' but for a joy that never leaves.