Hello friends, and welcome to the 'Bible Basics' Course from Hope&Grace.
Thanks for being here - it's so lovely to have you join us for this conversation!
Straight off the bat, let's address the titles issue. This idea has had a number of different names, as I'm sure you can tell. The confusion and changes to names is what comes when, like me, you have a tendency to work things out as you go along! For now, let's forget about 'The Hope&Grace Bible Project' and just stick with 'Bible Basics' - each video and blog post will be one of eight parts of the course. And this is part 1. There was a downloadable PDF version of this blog on todays email too, just incase that is helpful.
As you guys know, this course comes out of the conversation we've been having lately about our relationships with the Bible, and what gets in our way. In this course I want us to address those barriers, and be equipped to approach the Bible with a lot more confidence. Part 1 is an introduction to this conversation, the heart behind it, and the invitation held in it.
Here are some expanded notes from the first of our videos:
- We are all in the process of getting to know the Bible. Every single one of us, from the top preachers, to the brand new Christian, is on a journey with this book. None of us know it all. None of us know it 'as well as we should' or 'as well as we want to'
- The Bible is many things: A lifeline. The Word of God. It's the story of God and his people. The Bible is a primary way that God speaks to The Church, his people, today. It is important that we know this book.
- The Bible is alive. Thought the Holy Spirit this book is made alive as we read it. It changes us, and forms us into who we are made to be.
- The Bible is not about us. It is about God. It is an invitation to get to know God more. It is something we are allowed to consume. To eat, digest, to devour every word.
- The Bible invites us in to relationship. As we read, we build a relationship with it. The Bible is not God. The Bible teaches us about God. It is scripture. It is Holy.
Many of us feel a lot of guilt and shame around approaching the Bible. We feel that we are not good enough. We often feel pressure to make it pretty, impactful or important to other people. We feel that in order to access this book we need skills we don't possess. It can feel huge, overwhelming & often we have no idea where to start and, when we do begin, often we get lost in the confusion of words and concepts that we just don't understand right away.
Here is today's big encouragement, one that is key to the message of this course: we don't have to understand what the Bible says immediately in order to be 'good enough' to read it. We will address the lie of 'I'm not good enough' later on in this course, but for now, let's talk about Jesus' disciples. In Luke 8:9 it says 'His disciples asked him what their parable meant'. Jesus had just told the parable of the sower, one of the key parables that help us understand what the Kingdom of God is like. He'd told the parable to the crowd listening, but his disciples - the men chosen to travel and live and minister with Jesus - did not understand the meaning of everything he said. They had to ask questions. So they did. And what does Jesus do? Does he berate them for not understanding and turn them away? No. Not at all. He tells them that 'the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to you...' and he goes on to explain to them the meaning of the parable. You see, them needing to ask Jesus to explain did not disqualify them from being chosen. It did not mean that they no longer were good enough to be called his disciples, his followers, his friends. In fact, it meant the opposite. Because they knew who to turn to for the explanation. As I read this, God put a few things on my heart: 1) We are allowed to ask questions, to ask what things mean. 2) It's not just about somehow mystically 'knowing'... when Jesus talks about having 'ears to hear' (in verse 8), that includes WANTING to know, and asking questions to get there. 3) This speaks directly to our shame about not understanding this Bible well enough - asking is encouraged! For proof that this is in the bible, see the photo below.
SO, friend. Let's start off this journey of getting into the Bible with this understanding: It is ok to not understand. It is ok to ask questions. It is ok to ask other people, to ask your pastors, to read books, and it is especially ok to ask God to help you as you read. It's complicated. It's sometimes difficult. It is ok for us to not understand right away.
Let's approach the Bible with confidence, knowing that is it ok to ask questions. To us today, right now, the Bible is an invitation from God. Treat it like a friend that wants to get to know you. So, we're going to get to know it.
After Each section we are going to have an action point (or three). Here are today's.
Grab your Bible, dust if off the shelf. If you haven't got a paper one, get on Amazon and order one so you have one on its way. (If you'd like advice on which one to buy, get in touch and I'll recommend a few)
Grab hold of it & open it. Say hello to it. Reacquaint yourself with your Bible. Write your name in it if you haven't already. Add the date somewhere too.
Keep it out - Pop it somewhere that you will see it tomorrow like on the arm of your favourite chair, or on your kitchen table.
If you feel so inclined you could even look up that verse in Luke 8:9. I pray it will give you confidence. No pressure with that though.
Alright then friends. See you tomorrow for part 2!