Sometimes, when I am reading God’s Word, it feels like I am soaring through a galaxy of glory. I am being convicted of sin, seeing the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement, the comfort of the sovereignty of God, the intricate plan of redemptive history, or the power of the resurrection. The Bible seems so relevant and so applicable that I feel like I could sit there for an entire day with the Holy Book, meditating on its wonders.
Other days, however, the Bible is as plain and underwhelming as dry toast. Sometimes I see zero connection between my life and the words on the page before me. There is nothing immediately flashy, gripping, or electrifying about reading the rituals of Leviticus or the strange sounding judgments of the prophets, given to nations and kings I didn’t even know existed.
What do we do when the God’s Word doesn’t seem particularly relevant to our lives?
Well, I would first argue that the rituals of Leviticus and the judgements of the prophets are actually very important, but may take some serious thinking, prayer, and study to grasp that importance and relevance. But, there is a hidden assumption behind that very question that I believe is destructive and unhelpful for the good of our souls.
Here is something important for us to remember: we should be careful when the only question I am asking myself when reading the Bible is, “How does this apply to my life?” If the only question I am asking is, “How does this apply to my life?” then that subtly reveals that I believe that the Bible is ultimately about me – it is my “road-map to life”, my “basic instructions before leaving earth”. More or less, it is a book that primarily exists to teach me how I can be saved, and how I should live my life – and friends, that simply isn’t true.
We should be reading the Bible primarily asking, “What does this reveal to me about the character and nature of God?” God’s Word is a revelation of Himself to us. Jesus, the Word (John 1:1-3), came to the earth to make the invisible God visible (Col. 1:15), to reveal to us the radiance of the glory of the Father (Heb. 1:3). Now, the Bible is often called “God’s Word”, because it is a book that centers on the Word – Jesus Christ, and if the Book centers on Christ (John 5:39), and Christ is here as a revelation of the Father, by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18), then the Bible itself is primarily a book about our triune God.
If you had to condense the story of the Bible into one sentence, it would probably look something like: A holy God redeeming His fallen creation, to the praise of His glorious grace. That’s a somewhat different story than the “road-map” for us to live our lives by.
Now, just because the story is primarily about God doesn’t mean that we aren’t also a part of the story – we most certainly are! We are the sinners that Christ has redeemed! We just aren’t the main characters, or even the main point. Also, when God reveals Himself to us, there are boundless implications for how that should transform our lives, and we should be asking ourselves how it applies to us, BUT the transformative application is never separated from first receiving a deeper revelation of God. Paul explains to the Corinthian church that we become like what we worship (2 Cor. 3:18) – if we want our character to be shaped, we must first treasure God supremely.
So as we study God’s Word today, whether the words are jumping off the page or seem distant and remote to our day to day lives, let’s ask ourselves, “What does this text reveal to me about the character and nature of God?” And if Christ is indeed the ultimate revelation of God, then it won’t take too much thought for us to begin to see the shadow of Christ looming over the entire Bible. Maybe those strange Levitical rituals or prophetic judgments reveal to us that God takes sin and justice very seriously, so we should too. Maybe that will remind us of the seriousness of sin that God displayed by offering up His very own Son as a sacrifice to atone for it, and satisfy His divine justice.
We want to treasure and worship our Lord more clearly, and thus be transformed ourselves by it. We want to marinate our souls in the reality of God and what He has done for us, and then let the aroma of Christ arise from how we live our lives. So go read your Bible!