Reading the Bible as homework
Photo Illustration of sophomore Lauren Vogel | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES
A common fear swirling around campus is that the Bible can become like any other textbook we use in class. If you observe, as an outsider, the way the average Biola student studies the Bible, you could say that fear is rational. All students here graduate with Bible minors, so it is required that you know the Bible fairly well. Like any homework, reading can become routine.
However, I would be inclined to ask what the mindset is of those who claim that the Bible becomes like an ordinary textbook. Are you reading it because the homework requires so? Are you praying before reading the Bible text? Are you spending the recommended time diving into the Scripture, or are you reading the words, skimming over them and missing the point? All of these questions are not asked to criticize the weary reader, but to analyze the strategy of his Bible reading.
There appear to be two problems present when the Bible reading becomes an issue in a student’s day-to-day Bible homework. The first problem is the lack of the ability to analyze the text and critically think about the underlying meaning behind it. The second problem is the Bible has lost its importance to the individual. This has happened to me before.
Unfortunately, it is easy to forget that the Bible’s words are the words of God. Anyone who has spent an extended amount of time studying the Bible or has sat in a Bible class knows what I’m talking about. Our culture has not put enough weight on how powerful the word of God is. There are a number of ways in which communication with Christ is established. We have reading the Scripture, which is the primary source through which God shows us his intentions for our lives. God meets us in the text of the Bible and we forget so quickly that this can be our line to powerful connection with him.
If you look at Bible reading for a class as a way for God to show you how to live and to learn to love him, it will radically change the way you feel about this “textbook.” Yes, the Bible is a book. But that is not the most important thing. What is important is the way that words come off the page bubbling to the surface to our minds to be digested and examined. This is not only fulfilling to us as God’s creation but it shows us how we can live the life God has called us to live.
Having said that, this is my challenge for you. Each time you open the radical word of God, pray over it. Ask God to show you something, anything, which you can take from that time and use for a better understanding of God’s will. I guarantee the results will be different. There is always something new we can learn about God because he is bigger than knowledge itself. If you can remember that while reading, it will turn the Bible from just a book to the telephone line that God uses as one of the ways to communicate with us.