by Richard Mansel
Voracious readers learn the proper strategies to maximize the pleasure of the story. We must be honest and fair with writers and allow them their own stories. When we run ahead or afield, our wayward minds ruin the hard work of the storyteller.
As readers of Scripture, the rules become magnified because God’s Word contains the words of eternal life (John 6:68). We must do our best to understand the truths contained in the Bible, so we can go to heaven (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6).
Training our minds to do so is crucial.
When we pick up an adventure novel, we race through the pages captivated by the plot. As the author maneuvers the characters through scenes of danger, the reader ignores everything around them.
While the Bible isn’t fiction, it’s a tale of breathless adventure. Humans are placed in the Garden and when they sin, they’re banished from the pristine paradise (Genesis 1-3). In time, the sin of the world leads to a total destruction of life, save eight souls and a boatload of animals (Genesis 6-9).
Through the pages of God’s Word we find stories of high adventure and intrigue. Unlike a novel, we know the outcome of all the stories. The plot has been unraveled, and the spoilers fully analyzed.
The seasoned Bible student must be attuned to that reality. We can’t take the words of Scripture for granted and shortchange the morals.
When we come to a chapter like Esther 4, we smooth over the Queen’s shocking dilemma and the palpable tension of her spiritual challenge, because we know the outcome.
Paul’s arrest and harrowing voyage to Rome as a prisoner suffers when we breeze through the details. Instead, we need to slow down and feel the roll of the waves and the volatile emotions of the passengers.
When familiarity breeds contempt, we lose God’s message and we cannot make application to our lives as God desires.
The fear and uncertainty of Biblical characters becomes real when we read the story as the Holy Spirit intended. We should feel the vibrancy of their decisions and the consequences of their actions so we can integrate the lessons into our own lives.
As writers and preachers, we must dig deep within the text to find the details to make the common come alive. Each of us as readers must come to the Word and allow it to breathe God’s message of redemption.
Our souls are at stake when we read the Bible. We can’t read it as literature where we judge its authenticity based on human parameters. God is limitless and can accomplish super-human things and our faith must travel alongside him (Isaiah 55:8).
Reading the Bible is like no other book. With reverence, humility and respect, let’s take up the greatest adventure story ever written as soon as possible.