A couple of months ago, I read through the book of Ephesians, pausing to meditate on verses that struck me. I’ve read Ephesians multiple times and have heard it used repeatedly in sermons but as I slowed down and really reflected on the verses I was struck by something – I didn’t really believe this stuff.
For example, take Ephesians 1:7-8:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…
I’m currently studying theology in graduate school so on the one hand I believe this in the sense that I know it to be true. But belief is certainly more than a cognitive acknowledgement. These verses began to put questions to me that were increasingly uncomfortable – do I really believe that God’s grace is rich enough to cover my sin? Do I really believe that God demonstrated his wisdom in redeeming me? And finally, what would it look like if I actually lived like this were true?
The reality is that my life would look a lot different if I sought to not just read the Bible but to live it. I’m sure I would be a lot more joyful, in constant amazement and drawn to worship regularly. I would find myself, upon falling, running towards God rather than seeking to hide my face before my own created angry version of God.
I think this is the case for a lot of us Christians. We know we ought to read the Bible, and we do. But we focus on performing the task of reading Scripture and forget that reading Scripture is an event, a moment where the words can come alive to us and truths penetrate our hearts. The Bible is a mediator, bringing us and showing us the face of God for now which not only transforms the things we believe, but also transforms the way we live.
When we forget this, the Bible becomes pegged into a corner in which it is just another interesting (and perhaps bemusing) book, helpful for religious observance but not having impact beyond the page. We see it as teaching us but not necessarily giving us life.
Yet the Bible declares itself to be not just another book of religious ordinances; it points to the Word of God, Christ himself, the way, the truth and the life. Reading the Bible is easy, living it is a whole different animal. But when we begin to take Scripture at its word rather than to fit it into our own conceptions of God and grace, we will find our lives radically changed.
Don’t believe me? Try reading Ephesians 1 slowly, meditatively; I think you might discover what I did – that we desperately need the Spirit to connect what we read to our lives, and that we may have been missing out on something big, something we discover when we seek to live the Bible.