Getting the most out of the Bible

The early Christians didn’t see joining Jesus in God’s adventure as a new religion, but as a whole new way of experiencing and living life, a better way aimed to save the world from the expected ordinary, from things that don’t really mean or matter much, from seeing ourselves and life around us as small and insignificant, and to deal with big issues like injustice, suffering and imagining new amazing possibilities for everyone.Advancing Christ’s Kingdom, that is making God’s Kingdom as real on earth as it is in heaven was something that was more important than their own individual lives. It was something worth living for and dying for. Something worth risking everything for.

In fact people on Jesus’ team often seem to ‘lose’ big: comfort, reputations, friendships and relationships, money, possessions and even their lives. But like all great adventure stories, good triumphs bad, and what is achieved is worth so much more. God believes that the best plan for your life is to be like Jesus where ever you are and with whoever you are with and often to do it in a way never seen before… right at your age now. Our creative God wants to create more art with our lives.

With so many different (and sometimes wrong) ideas about God (and sometimes from people who should know better), the best way to understand and connect with God is through the Christian Bible. It’s funny to think that when you read the Bible about Jesus, that Jesus actually did not speak English. This is crucial because sometimes people can get hung up on specific words or language style used, rather than trying to understand how those listening to him actually thought about what he said.

There are many different ways to make sure we hear what God is trying to say through his words (rather than what other people want to tell us he says). One approach is called the SOAP approach, a modern twist on an old approach called “Lectio Divina”. Rather than just an old book about dead people, thinking more about what the Bible is about should help it come more alive and meaningful!

Scripture: Read carefully the Bible passage within its context (that means read those verses before and after it). Reread a few times to pick up anything that might be missed skimming it initially.

Observe: Think about what the passage actually means, what was going on at that time and how the original hearers would have understood it. This helps us understand the ‘why’ behind this passage.

Apply: How did the original hearers respond and act as a result of this passage? What practical actions should I take in response to what I’ve observed? From the ‘why’ we can work out the ‘what’ we do for our situation.

Pray: Ask God to help us think more about the passage, so it can continue to influence our lives in real ways. Prayer reminds us to let God influence us rather than us doing what we think we should.