A Well Chosen Question
How do you read your Bible? Do you read just a few verses once a day; or, do you read longer passages, maybe, a couple of times a week? What are your expectations when you read? Are you looking for information, or are you looking for transformation? Have you become so familiar with the parts of the Bible that you read that you hardly see the words anymore, or do you find yourself struggling to make sense of what is on the page? It occurs to me that perhaps a few well-chosen questions can greatly affect the way we read our Bibles.
When we read our Bibles, we want to learn from the Scriptures, learn about God and also about ourselves. This means then that as we read, we have to ask the right questions. We need to ask questions concerning God. Such questions can include, “What is God doing in this story?” or “What does this story say about God?” Let’s take for example, Genesis 1, which is familiar to all of us. When we read the first chapter of Genesis, it is easy to see what God is doing in the story. God is creating. Yet, one interesting aspect of this story is that God is creating out of nothing. God is not working with materials that are already present. There is nothing, until God speaks the word and creation begins. This story does more than tell us what God is doing, it also says something important about God. It tells us that God is greater than anything else in the universe, because God created all things. God is greater than the sun, moon, and stars, the trees and rocks, all of which have been worshiped down through the history of humankind. Yet, to worship any of these created things is to worship that which is less than God. This also explains why God, in the Ten Commandments, tells his people not to have any other gods before him. Any other god is less than the one true God of whom there is no rival. Asking these sorts of questions helps us to learn more about God.
In addition to asking questions about God, we need also ask questions about ourselves as God’s people. At this point, it is important to remember that though we can and should use the Scriptures for our personal devotions, the overwhelming majority of texts were written to and for the community. As we read the Bible, we need to keep in mind that the Word of God is primarily a Word for the community because God created us to be in community, and when God called his people, he called them to be in community. So, must ask community, as well as, individual questions, such as, “What is happening to God’s community in this story?” or “What does this passage say about God’s community?” Continuing with Genesis 1 we read that the community is made up of men and women, both of whom are created in the image of God. This means that in the community of God’s people the gifts and contributions of both men and women are necessary and are to be celebrated. Genesis 1 also tells us that God’s people have been given dominion over the rest of creation, but with that privilege goes great responsibility to care for God’s creation. This has ecological implications for how we treat the world that God has given us. For, we will be held responsible for what we have done to God’s creation.
There are more questions that we can ask, as well as, more answers to find. The important thing is that indeed we do ask questions so as to learn and grow in our understanding of God and ourselves. So, let us read. Let us ask questions. Let us learn.