Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 13, 2011

transformation, not information

The Scriptures are so incredibly rich.  Each word, each sentence, each verse, each chapter, each book, each Testament breathes life and truth.  Reading Mark’s gospel this week has stirred so many things in my own life.  Each day I look forward to the window that the text provides into the life of Jesus.  The intimate one-on-one interactions he has with ordinary people, the miracles on a grand scale, the forgiveness, grace and love he shows, the stories he tells, the healing he performs, and even the cursing of a fig tree.  I have been glued to every word, on every page.  And then I came across a few simple words that made me stop reading, put down my Bible, close my eyes and let the words echo, settle, and begin to penetrate deep inside me.

These words appear as a suffix to some miraculous events.  Jesus had just fed five thousand people, with what we might consider these days as an appetizer portion for a party of ten.  And then He shows up to aid the disciples who were struggling in a boat, walking on the surface of the water.  Verses 51 and 52 of Mark chapter 6 give us the reaction of the disciples …

They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. (MSG)

And then came the final words of verse 52 that stopped me … None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.

As I sat silently, I began to relate to the disciples in a way that was different from my standard answer of, “Yeah, I can see myself saying the same thing!”  Or, “Yes, I am so like Peter.  So passionate and yet so quick to stick my foot in my mouth, or turn my back on Christ”.  The Spirit began to open my eyes to the way I, at times, consume Scripture.  And I was reminded of words I read in the John Ortberg book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted.  A challenge in a chapter that was focused on what he termed the “practice of reflection on Scripture”.  He wrote …

Read the Bible with a readiness to surrender everything.  Read it with a vulnerable heart.  Read it wisely, but understand that reading for transformation is different from reading to find information or to prove a point.  Resolve that you will be obedient to the Scriptures.

Our culture is so consumed by the need for more and more information.  And it is so easy to fall into this trap when consuming God’s Word.  We can get lost in reading recreationally, loving the stories and the truths that never quite penetrate our hearts and show evidence in our lives.  Or reading enough so we can impress others with our knowledge, or using what we read as rebuttal to an argument over doctrine or a societal ill.

As we read through the New Testament multiple times this year, I pray that you will read with a “readiness to surrender everything”, and “with a vulnerable heart”.  Scripture has the power to transform and to renew.  It breathes life and truth.  Consume it that way, with that intent.  Let it not be said of us that, “None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.

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