When it comes to Bible study it helps to look at the Bible from God’s perspective. Put yourself in His shoes and think about how you would help your children get to know you. Probably the best way to go about it would be to write down your thoughts explaining to them, maybe in a series of letters, why you do things the way you do. You might even want to share some of the deeper things of your heart. If your kids are to get to know you, they need to know both your hurts and your joys. You may even need to address some of the ways they are the ones who hurt you. That’s a hard place for you to go, but if your relationship with your children is to be real and deep, they are going to need to have at least some understanding – and maybe even a little compassion – for how you feel. Poetry is best when it comes to sharing your feelings, so maybe writing some poems would be a good idea.
Now, consider this: Suppose you decided to use a transcriptionist to do your writing for you? Maybe you decided to let a couple of your children who are closest to you help with that project. (You have lots of kids, by the way. :>) You would tell them what you are thinking and they would write it down. Of course, you would have to check it for accuracy and make sure the son who is helping you didn’t get any of his own ideas mixed in with your stuff. After all, you are revealing yourself to them, not them to themselves. Mix that other stuff in, even if it’s good stuff, and you’ll have a gosh-awful mess.
You may have to write in some hard and difficult stuff that simply has to be said to your kids. Some of them have broken relationship with you and are living lives that contrast so much with you and your ways that there are no longer any common points between you. There’s no way you can avoid talking to them about their need to return to relationship with you and change their lifestyles. They need to stop doing wrong! You love your children – all of them – and it hurts you deeply to see them living as they do. You want them all to come back to you and become part of the family again.
That’s how it is with God. He loves each and every one of His children with an intensity that not even the most dedicated human parent can match. Like every parent, He wants His children to know what kind of person He is. He wants to spend time with us and share life with us. When we study the Bible, letting Him speak to us as we process the words we are reading, our relationship with Him grows and flourishes. Even when we think we aren’t getting anything out of it, we really are. Think about it – when God spoke the words, “Let there be light!”, the universe was created! Do you think that the rest of His words in the Bible are any less potent? The word of God will drive itself deep into your soul and cut out the sin and wrongful thinking we have chosen to let be part of us. It changes us! The words you read on the pages of the Bible are every bit as powerful as the words He spoke at the beginning of time and, as you read, it changes you into a different person. You become transformed.
Take another look at the first of our four foundational principles of Bible study.
Principle 1: God’s word is true regardless of our perceptions or feelings!
God chose forty-four of His children to pen the scriptures and while each man was writing, the Holy Spirit was directing every detail of what was being written. Not only that, but as the scripture was copied time and time and time again, the Holy Spirit was watching over each copy, making sure it was accurate and communicated exactly what He wanted it to say. Even as you would check the text if one of your children was transcribing the story of your life and ways, so God has been careful, over thousands of years and the thousands, now millions, of times His word has been copied, to make sure that the Bible is correct and true. We can, indeed, trust that the words written in the Bible are true and let them impact our lives and thinking. That means that when we see in ourselves a life-practice or life-principle, often based in the common culture we share with our neighbors, that doesn’t match up with what God is asking of us in the Bible, we need to repent and change. And that is what principle #4 (today's topic) is all about:
Principle 4: When the teachings of the Bible conflict with our common culture, the Bible wins and, when all is said and done, it is the Bible’s teachings on which we must base our lives.
Down through the ages, there have been many human cultures with ways and practices that distinguished them from other people groups and cultures. Every single one of those cultures, like our own, was fallen and sinful in its roots, some worse than others. Even the culture of Ancient Israel, designed and established by God Himself, was fallen. Jesus said that God had to make concessions “for the hardness of your hearts” when He had Moses write the laws the Israelis lived by. The culture of America is no exception and many (most?) aspects of our culture are completely contrary to God and His ways. When the Holy Spirit uses the word of God to highlight those conflicts during our Bible reading time and then goes on to point out how we are ourselves involved in that sinfulness, then we Christians have to choose whether or not we want to change our ways. It’s a sad thing, but far too often, instead of repenting, we develop complex and convoluted explanations of some piece of scripture that allow us to keep living out practices that God’s word, when taken in straightforward fashion, clearly condemns. (That’s where Principle 3 comes in. Remember Occam’s razor? Choose the simpler, most straightforward interpretation.) If you have to jump through hoops and contort your thinking so that you can continue doing something the Bible conflicts with, you are most likely running in the wrong direction. So, instead of trying to bend the word of God to match up with your cultural norms, submit to God and repent of those wrong practices and wrong thought patterns. Let the Holy Spirit use the word of God to transform you. Let the Bible win!
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.
1 Peter 5:6 KJV