The Lord’s brother reminds us that although having a correct view of the Bible regarding its inspiration, inerrancy, and authority are essential, because the Bible is God’s personal word to each of us we must also be doers of that word. Our training in reading the Bible has a goal of developing our listening skills. We want to be more than information gatherers. We want to approach the words in love, with attentiveness and intention so that our thoughts and behaviors become naturally driven by the voice that we hear emanating from those words. In this week’s chapter of The Blue Parakeet, Scot McKnight devotes a short chapter to the importance of listening intentionally.
God speaks to us through His bible for a reason. He speaks so that we might know Him and enter fully into relationship with Him. In the context of that relationship we tend to listen differently. If we were to happen upon a cache of love letters between two strangers, we might sit and read them marveling at the turn of a phrase or the depth of emotion expressed but they would not necessarily speak to us as an outsider. On the other hand, finding the letters that we received from our husbands or wives early on in our relationship we hear a different voice. It is no longer our own voice reciting the words but the soft, gentle voice of our wives telling the story of the letter. It speaks directly to us because we know and love the person who put the words to paper.
The Bible is intended to be read the same way, in the context of a love relationship. God speaks through the story directly to you and I in order to move us. It may be for the purposes of mission or it may be to put up a guardrail in our lives by hearing Him tell the story of others who failed to do His word. Either way, the voice we hear is personal and loving, not the technically disconnected voice of the Greek interpretation of Paul. We aren’t moved by Paul or John or Micah, we are moved by the story that God tells through them.
This concept is amongst the easiest to understand when we ask ourselves what our significant others want from us more than anything else…to be heard. Listening is loving (thank you Alan Jacobs.)