People of the Word: We Why Read the Bible
A year ago, a new SRU student meandered over to the Harbor’s table at the Org Fair in the Quad with a pensive look on his face. “How do you guys feel about…the Bible?” he asked me. (Okay, let's be honest—it was Jake Beck.) If you’ve been to a Harbor Wednesday, the answer is quite obvious: we love the Bible! Our weekly gatherings that provide the foundations of our community are structured around small-group Bible study. To quote from the CCO’s Statement of Faith, “We believe that the Bible in its entirety is divine revelation, and we submit to the authority of Holy Scripture, acknowledging it to be inspired by and to carry the full weight of God’s authority.”
But what does that mean in our lives? What does that mean for college students, very few of which would consider themselves Bible scholars or theologians? Here are a few ways we think the Bible should impact our lives.
First, the Bible is the most available way we have to learn about God. God speaks in many ways through his Spirit to those who have ears to hear his voice, but his written Word is a constant source of revelation from God that we can access at any time, in any circumstance. A lot of people think the Bible is primarily religious commands or teaching, or simply stories about people who have related to God in some way. Certainly both of those elements are present in Scripture, but when you read the Bible for what it is, it becomes clear that it is primarily one large story of God coming to be with his people. God is the main character. If we miss this, we miss how much we are able to come to know God by reading and studying his Word.
Second, the Bible is not easy to understand and interpret. If it was, there probably wouldn’t be so many Christians in so many camps arguing about so many particular points of theology for so many centuries. It’s really hard! Here’s what’s brilliant about this design—it prevents us from skimming through Scripture like a manual and thinking we have all the answers to life. We have to wrestle with Scripture like Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32, refusing to let go until we get a blessing. This is how we come to understand God’s Word; we struggle and we chew on it and we debate it with others until we come to know God more.
Third, studying the Bible shapes and forms us. When you sit down to read the Bible, or engage in a Bible study with others at the Harbor, there’s a lot to be gained from whatever passage you are reading. Hopefully you are able to learn from that passage more about God and what it means to live for him, and to find things you can apply to your life. But the value of reading Scripture is even more than this. Bible study is a practice; it is a discipline. Beyond what you learn and discover in the specific text you read on any given day, the very act of sitting down, reading Scripture, and submitting to what it has to teach you will shape you in ways you may not even expect. The more you do this, the more you become a student of God’s Word, the more you are attuned to his voice, the more you become willing to live obediently to God’s ways. Reading the Bible isn’t just something you do—it is something that does something to you.
And that’s why we spend so much time together every week digging into Scripture. We turn our hearts and minds to what God is saying in his Word, we wrestle with what it means and what it is calling us to, and we allow God to transform us through this practice. We are promised that those who dwell on God's Word will be "like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither" (Psalm 1:3).
If we are to be God’s people, we must be people of the Word.
So, yeah…that’s how we feel about the Bible.
—Sam Levy is a CCO campus minister in partnership with Gateway Church at Slippery Rock University and Grove City College. He loves his family, baseball, cheese, and walking with college students as they pursue the God who is making all things new. Follow him on Twitter at @sdlevy13.