Elemental Season 1 - Day 18


So why can’t we just say that we believe what the Bible says and that we live our lives according to it? Wouldn’t that simply make things a bit easier? 

Yes, of course, it would.

But unfortunately, that is not exactly how it all works. We are all involved in the process of interpreting what Scripture says to each of us. 

Wouldn’t it be easier if we all just read it and thought of it in the same way? Of course, that would be ideal, but the Bible has never been something that makes it easy to unify. Rather, there are many different interpretations of all those texts that seem so “clear” to everyone, even if they believe the texts to be “clear” but have different interpretations. It can be confusing and it can be pretty difficult to come to a consensus. 

Oh, and when a group does come to a consensus, they think they are the only ones who got it right. . . Sound familiar? 

Let’s talk about interpretation for a moment. I know I have given this example before, but I’ll do it one more time. A simple stop sign should be the easiest thing to interpret. It always means stop, and to stop completely. 

However. . .

We engage in our interpretation of this sign very differently depending on when we show up to this sign if there are people around, what the state of our schedule is, and many more factors. These factors mean that we take a look at this sign and interpret it differently, often according to what works best for us. So to say something is simple to interpret might be an oversimplification. 

All of this is true when we approach scripture as well. We bring with us what we have in our hearts, our history, our heads, and even what we are dealing with by our hands. It is never as simple as we would like it to be. Even those texts that at first seem straightforward are often packed with multiple meanings, cultural understandings, idioms, and even tongue-in-cheek sayings. We need to look at each of those things in order to first get to what the author was trying to say at the time, dig out the principles and then figure out the applications for our lives. 

When we have the understanding that scripture is easy to interpret and understand, and that each text is the same way, we sometimes become frustrated and even embarrassed that we don’t understand or can incorporate what we read into our lives. It is a shame because we have too often been taught that we are deficient if we don’t understand perfectly. 

Please allow yourself to shed that thought from its existence in your life. Let it go. It is my hope that you understand how complicated, dangerous, exciting, silly, and even fun scripture can be to understand, interpret, and incorporate into our lives. It is really a great journey. 

As I sit down each week to work on the sermons I have to give, I am always surprised, I am stretched, and I am encouraged, challenged, and left exhausted by the work of interpreting and understanding scripture. It is a special blessing to be able to do it for you, but I would rather do it with you, so let’s go! 

  1. Do you like reading scripture? 
  2. Do you find it hard or easy to understand? 
  3. What do you know about the background of scripture that allows you to be able to understand it in a more profound way? 

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