Why Do We Read?

Why Do We Read?

I promised more about the evening I spent listening to Chris Webb and others talk about the Word and the themes of Webb’s book, The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground. (http://store NULL.renovare NULL.us/p-413-the-fire-of-the-word NULL.aspx)

We met  in downtown Denver in a high-ceilinged, windowed room at the end of an Episcopal church building. For one used to carpeted church floors and modern architecture, this atmosphere put me right away into the context of a discussion to span the ages.

The night began with some good thoughts by Howard Baker, an instructor of Christian Formation at Denver Seminary. Howard talked about how God meets us in four ways through the Bible. He meets us at the intersection of our lives and his Word. Where is your story in the story of Jesus? Where is Jesus in your story? God also meets us in the Bible in the infinitely loving person of Jesus.

God meets us as he encourages us to participate in the story. We are the blind man, we are the woman who touched Jesus, and we can experience his touch on us. And God meets us as the transforming fire, as he did for Jeremiah. “The word of God becomes like a fire in my soul, and I am weary of holding it in.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Chris Webb spoke next and opened by talking about how the Book, the Word of God, is always secondary to the Word, Jesus. Someone asked about the problem of translation and getting the Word right, free from error and accurate to what God originally inspired. The Bible merely points to Jesus, Chris replied. Because God translated the Word into human form, it’s essential that we translate it into our languages. Various translations and languages are secondary to the Bible’s main job of pointing us to the living Word, Jesus.

So often we come to the Bible with an intellectual approach, Webb explained, and we miss experiencing Jesus himself through the Word.

“I think we’re somewhat afraid of ourselves. There are unexplored depths and we’re frightened. We can’t control God. We think there is more safety in the intellect because it insulates us from the need to have the experience with God.”  Good scholarship is precious but never an end in itself, he continued. There is another way–coming to God in his Word as the Lover.  We come to be kissed by Christ.

In closing the evening, Peter Eaton, the Episcopal Rector hosting the event in his church, rose to thank Chris and to share thoughts of his own. (Such formality. About now all of us were screaming inwardly, “God loves us! He LOVES us! He wants to BE with us!) Well, back to the speakers. Eaton’s father had dedicated his life to studying the Bible and living an intellectual life while also walking closely with Christ. We must uphold the intellectual tradition and those committed to this way, he warned, for many who are studious have also been committed lovers of Christ.

He was right, of course. Intellectual rigor and commitment by those walking closely with Jesus have allowed God’s Word to be passed from generation to generation, from culture to culture, and to endure for us today. How could we but want to approach God’s Word with great care. Yet, as with any commitment, the danger of excess always looms, and Chris Webb’s message comes with a powerful caution and more, a joy-filled invitation. Study, yes. Take care, yes. And don’t lose touch with the Friend, the Helper, the Almighty Companion, yes, the Lover of … Me! He is the reason we read!

Do you read this way? Are you more apt to read with your intellect or to read to meet Jesus?

Giveaway Winners! We have three winners to announce. Thank you to Kathy Wucherpfennig for sharing your poetry during April. You are the random winner and will receive a book! Erin Hargrove and Sherri Hartman are the winners of The Fire of the Word. I hope you enjoy your book! Thank you to all of you new subscribers. You will have more chances to win!

[Thank you to wwarby/Flickr for the use of your photo!]

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