I recently finished reading the book “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans. It had been on my list for months and I finally decided to make time to read it and I’m really glad I did. Like all of Evans’ writing, it pulled me in and kept me engaged, inspiring a desire within me to spend more time reading and exploring the stories of Scripture.
In “Inspired,” Evans recounts her “journey back to loving the Bible” (xix) after growing up in a conservative evangelical Christian tradition and “leaving her faith a dozen times” (xviii) over the years before joining an Episcopal church. Like many of us, Evans had doubts and questions and wrestled with her faith. She struggled with the stories in the Bible about war and violence, the passages that seem to disregard women and leave them out of God’s plan, the verses that are used as weapons to control and oppress and discriminate. “In short,” she says, “we have on our hands a Bible as complicated and dynamic as our relationship with God, one that reads less like divine monologues and more like an intimate conversation” (14). This understanding doesn’t resolve all of our issues or answer all of our questions, but it helps us to remember that “God is still breathing. The Bible is both inspired and inspiring” (xxiii).
At youth group and Bible study a couple weeks ago we talked about why we read the Bible. What’s the point? It’s long and confusing and a lot of it seems out of touch with our daily lives. But, as always, the youth responded with insightful reflections about the familiar stories they feel they have known forever and the ways that Scripture can offer them peace and guidance when they need it. It shows them who God is and how they are called to live.
We also talked about some questions we can ask as we read Scripture:
- What does this teach me about God?
- What does this teach me about me?
- What does this teach me about how I need to live and treat others?
So, the next time you are reading the Bible, you might ask these questions. And they might help remind you that “our relational God has given us a relational sacred text, one that, should we surrender to it, reminds us that being people of faith isn’t as much about being right as it is about being part of a community in restored and restorative relationship with God” (25).