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Reading the Scriptures as the Word of God

Author: Fr Chris Thomas

Reading the Scriptures as the Word of God

Fr. Chris Thomas challenges us to encounter the Risen Jesus in the Scriptures and be transformed in the process.

Many years ago I was in the throes of a deep depression when I met a woman who was put into my life to help me through the darkness.

She was a therapist.

Her sharing with me helped me to see things differently and make the changes that I had to make in my life.

I was challenged to let go and move on and see things differently.

Often she would ask the question “where is your God in this?”

I was moved to a deeper level of faith and personal awareness because of her.

Most of us will have had encounters with people that have changed our perceptions, enabled us to move on to a new stage in life and encouraged us always to trust in the presence of God.

For me they are encounters with the risen Jesus, the one who became and becomes flesh who lived and lives among us.

Encounters with the Lord will always involve change and conversion.

The Scriptures are full of such meetings with the risen Jesus. Remember John’s account of breakfast on the shore and the way in which Peter had to change; or Thomas’ meeting with the risen Lord.

Change, conversion, letting go, all happened as a result of those meetings.

If you don’t want to be changed, don’t read the Bible

Reading the Scriptures as the Word of God is about encountering God and allowing the stories that we read to propel us into the process of transformation, personally, socially, politically economically. In fact it is about being transformed in every way possible.

If you don’t want to change then don’t read the Bible.

If you‘re happy with your own way of doing things and your own views and understandings don’t read the Scriptures.

If you’re comfortable with doing Religious things and building up your own ego by doing them then don’t read the Scriptures.

Transformation is not an easy road to travel and in fact it is one that most of us avoid at all costs.

We do not want to have to face how we spend our money or how we vote.

Nor about areas of acceptance, forgiveness, love and compassion because they make us feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

We seldom want to mix with people who do not fit in with our narrow understandings of how people should be.

If we are reading them as the Word of God, the Scriptures will force us to look at our inner lives, face our bitterness, our anger, our ultimate selfishness and allow those realities to be transformed.

They will encourage us not to run away from pain and sorrow but to find life in them.

Those areas are precisely where the Scriptures are pointing us and we avoid going there because it is costly.

The Scriptures will always challenge us to trust in God more than ourselves

The Scriptures will always challenge us to trust in God more than ourselves. They will confront us with our own smallness and our own greatness.

They will defy us to be comfortable and inspire us to be open to change.

They will invite us to live in the tension of the finite and the infinite.

You will become a new creation if you allow the Scriptures to become life to you. This encounter with God can take us to places that we never dreamed possible. We can experience an inner freedom and an inner security beyond our wildest dreams.

We can find love that will take our breath away and make life vibrant and thrilling.

The Church teaches us that the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Generations of believers have discovered that these books are alive and that somehow when we reflect on them and pray through them, they have a power to lead us into the whole process of transformation.

Apparently the word Gospel that we translate as Good News was a word taken from a culture where war and battles were accepted as the norm and a Gospel was a message of victory that announced a new beginning.

These Scriptures are to enable us to have a radical new beginning every time we read them and pray through them.

Are you so familiar with these ancient books that you have lost your capacity to allow them to transform you?

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that only those on the journey can really share the journey with others. What is the journey about? I think it’s about amazement. Are you amazed by the God you meet in the Scriptures or are you so familiar with these ancient books that you’ve lost your capacity to allow them to transform you?

Do you know so much about the Scriptures, so much information that you can’t let them transform you because you think information is all it’s about?

Or are you so amazed by the God you encounter that you begin to see with a new set of eyes.

The relationship that the ancient peoples experienced is timeless.

So their journey becomes our journey.

It’s about encountering God and about transformation.

If you’re not on a journey with God you won’t understand the call the Scriptures are giving to enter into the process of transformation.

The bible is supposed to amaze us

To read the Scriptures as the word of God is to enter into the process of transformation.

In order to allow that to happen we have to let go of popular misconceptions about the bible.

The bible’s not primarily a history book, a moral handbook or a manuscript to prove that God exists.

It’s the faith story of a people called to grow in trusting and listening to the God who walks with us.

Sadly many people are afraid of God and often try to control God or manipulate God into being what we want God to be.

The bible is supposed to so amaze us that that we fall in love with God and then everything’s up for grabs.

We’ll go where God leads and be open to doing what God wants us to do.

The living word of God draw us into an experience of God, an encounter with God where we know that God is alive and with us.

Rosemary Haughton a feminist theologian says this encounter is “a knife edge of experience”.

Richard Rohr says “outside an experience of this kind of God most religion will remain merely ritualistic, moralistic doctrinaire and largely unhappy”.

The bible wants to draw us into an experience of God that is beyond our finite minds and yet which frees us to see and believe and hope and love.

How are you going to respond? Are you going to trust, are you going to risk, are you willing to look stupid and foolish in order to journey and discover?

What is this telling me about myself or about God?

If you read the Scriptures asking the right questions like what is this telling me about myself or about God, what is this saying about my life?

If you are asking questions like “Is God real?” “Can life be different than it is?” “Can the Kingdom happen now?” “Can I encounter God now?” “Am I being transformed?” then maybe you’ll begin to get a foothold into what it’s about.

If you’re on a journey of trying to listen and trust you’ll begin to understand.

When I read the Scriptures I always pray for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit before I read.

I always have a good commentary with me to enable me to understand the culture in which particular books were written and I pray that whatever is revealed to me I will be willing to respond whatever the cost

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