Did you make any resolutions this year, perhaps to eat better or to exercise more? Have you resolved to spend more time doing the things you love and less on the things that end up being meaningless? What about being more spiritual? From time to time, people will want to know what they can do to be more spiritual. So, how can we be more spiritual? Well, the answer won’t shock you. You have heard it before. It is a tried and true method. To be more spiritual, you need to read, to read the Word of God. Just ask the reformers.
When the reformers were forced to break from the Catholic church, they also broke from many of the practices of the Catholic church. One practice that they did not break from, however, is the reading of the Bible. As a matter of fact, they greatly expanded the way in which the Bible was being read at that time. At the time of the reformation, the Bible was only being read by the priest in worship, or the monks and nuns in the monasteries. The common folk in the church were not reading the Bible. For one reason, they didn’t have a copy in their homes, and for another reason, the Bible was in Latin and not in their native tongues. The reformers sought to change this disparity of reading God’s Word. They translated the Bible into many languages and, with the help of the Gutenberg press, got the Word of God into the hands of the common people.
The reason the reformers wanted everyone in the church to have access to the Bible was because they fervently believed that in the reading of Scripture, one could come into contact with the living Christ, an understanding that I don’t think many of us share these days. Somewhere along the way, we have lost the confidence to believe that when we read the Bible we are going to hear a word from God, that we are going to encounter the living Christ. There are at least two reason for this development: one, we treat the Bible as a book of information; and two, we have mistakenly accepted the notion that only the “experts” can understand the Scriptures.
We treat the Bible as nothing but a source of information. I hear people refer to the Bible as a guidebook for life and so when they read the Bible they read to find the nuggets of wisdom that will aid them in living the kind of life God has called them to live. It is true that the Bible can and does guide our lives, but it is so much more. These pages contain the story of God and God’s people, and as God’s people we can encounter God in these pages. We can find our place in the larger story. Reading the Bible is less about gathering information and more about living in relationship with God in Jesus Christ.
The other mistake we make is believing that only experts can understand the Bible. That is simply not true. I admit there are parts of Scripture that are harder to understand than others; but, I think that has more to do with a lack of familiarity than it does with the actual content of the passages. The more we engage the Scriptures, the more familiar they will be to us; and, the more familiar to us, then the more we will understand them. A child learns by being immersed in a family culture. We will learn the Scriptures more as we are immersed in them.
So, for those of us who want to be more “spiritual” the reformers would tell us that we need only go to the Word of God. Make them so much a part of our lives that the very language of Scripture becomes our language. In doing so, we will find ourselves encountering the living Christ more and more. What could be more spiritual than encountering the living Christ?