Last week my three-year-old second daughter came to my room. Then she picked up a bible from my bookshelf and started reading. The moment she started to read, I began to laugh. Not because she was reading it funny (she can’t read yet), but she was saying out loud lines from the storybooks she heard us reading. She then picked up another translation and did the same. She had no intention to know what the book she was reading wants to say. Rather, she was so focused on remembering what she wanted to say. It was very amusing at first then this thought came to my mind: “Maybe that’s what I often do with the Bible”.
Bible contains God’s timeless truth about life and our purpose. Without it, it is hard to imagine growing in faith. However, one mistake that Christians can easily make is starting reading the Bible without intention to understand what the original author is trying to say. As someone said, you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say.
Christians read the Bible as “God’s Word” but often we forget that Bible is actually a compilation of ancient manuscripts (copies of handwritings) written by human authors, though inspired by God. They did not write it in trance or in dreams. They wrote it with clear intention, with specific readers in mind, and with their intellect fully engaged. What that means is without seeking to understand what the human authors purposed to say from the text first, we can easily miss what God intended to say.
As I became a bit familiar with the Bible after reading it a couple of times, I often assumed I already knew what the text was saying before reading it again. However, as I studied the Bible more, I begin to realize how much one simple text could be interpreted differently by many bright scholars.
That is why to correctly read the Bible, we need humility. Truly humble people are often very intellectual and knowledgeable people. But they always seek to understand without becoming conclusive too soon. Great scientists acknowledge that their great ideas are often “hypothesis” and are ready to make room for newer findings. We need the same attitude. As someone said, the Bible is inspired but our understanding of it is not. Our understanding of the Bible can change and should be ready to change.