Read the Bible Like it Really MattersJun 06, 2019
This is a guest post by Elizabeth Cravillion. Elizabeth writes to shine a light on the hard places of life on her website elizabethcravillion.com.
2019. An impressive time to live.
We can practically have anything we want. I’m sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop with an Earl Grey latte with almond milk and honey. I drove here in my husband’s Silverado listening to a classic Easton Corbin song in a ball cap and my silver Allbirds. I get to customize all my choices.
2019. Unlike our parents generation, we’re allowed to talk about our feelings and our mental health. Self-care is on trend. We’re bringing dark things into the light. Hashtags create a way for people to share their stories, even if from behind a screen.
You could argue that we are healthier as a society than we’ve been for a long time.
Problem? When we focus on one thing, we fall off balance and let other things slide.
Generation X zoned in on appearances. Studying the Bible with stacks of commentaries and Bible dictionaries looked good and equated to being more spiritual. Learning has value but not if it just stays in my head. And paper Bibles a thousand thin pages long don’t feel relevant anymore, because we care less about looking so put-together spiritually.
Old motives are no longer relevant, so what is?
God’s word is truth and it never changes.
And while we’ve shifted to self-care instead of self-neglect and practice shining a light on our pain and brokenness, we’ve turned ourselves into the center of our universe. And for us Jesus-followers, that’s not where we need to be.
Jesus brought us truth and life but not always in the way we think. He says, “Here’s a new way - walk in it.” Yes, he brings freedom and mental and emotional health and loves that we’re finally valuing ourselves. He’s passionate about being in relationship with us, after all. But not on our terms. He is still God.
So, 2019. Am I still supposed to read the Bible? What good does it do me?
The Bible lays out clearly how God’s sees us and our culture, through dramatic stories of spiritual victories and moral failures, gut-wrenching prayers and worship, practical guidance in letters to Jesus-followers and God’s direct words to people through his messengers.
“Make them holy - consecrated - with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth.” Jesus prayed this for us (John 17:17, MSG).
How can God’s truth shape my real life today?
I have to know what it says.
So I stick it on audio and listen to it through my earbuds. I buy an actual paper journal and write out verses so I can focus my attention on the truth for a few quiet minutes.
We can find a Bible translation that connects with our soul. Original Bible authors wrote in everyday Hebrew and Greek - street language. Centuries later, Reformers translated it from the formal Latin into common German and English. God never intended us to read the Bible in archaic language. We can try the NLT, MSG or CSB or compare different versions of the same sections until we hear the truth in our heart language.
I have to contrast my perception of life with God’s.
I read lots of words that feel good on my phone every day. But do they all speak the whole truth? The Bible helps me redefine them. I write out my own mantras based on God’s truth.
“I am okay,” becomes “God accepts me just as I am.”
“I can do this,” shifts into “I can do this through Christ.”
“Give myself grace,” changes to “Today I receive God’s grace for me.”
Same principles, but filtered through God eyes.
I believe I have control over what messages I let in.
Even today, in a society of flash advertising and easy distractions, I still get to choose what I believe.
God put us in 2019 for a reason. We live in the present. Let’s look for the ways we can leverage the healthy aspects of culture and always compare its messages to God’s truth and let him transform what needs to be redeemed in our minds.
You can find Elizabeth on her Instagram, @ElizabethCravillion or her website at elizabethcravillion.com.