Finding Our Way in the Word (2)
The tragedy of the Church is that, almost from the very beginning, we have allowed ourselves to be distracted from the Way. And then we forget what it means.
Finding the Way in the Word
Why is it important how people read the Scriptures? Because the diversity, variety and complexity of the text arises from the life that led to these documents being written in the first place. Life is divers, varied and complex. That is what life is like, and variety is what life creates. If we erase the diversity of the text, we erase its life as well. If we fear its complexity and feel unable to question what is written - challenge it, wrestle with it, argue with it, even dissent from it - then the text cannot speak to us. Its life cannot inspire us, change us, form us, fill us. We are no longer allowing the Spirit to speak to us, because we have decided in advance what the Spirit must say. And we are no longer able to find the Way in the Word, because we are not listening with the whole of ourselves.
Finding the Way in the Word is like going for a swim in a natural pool. As I wade out into the middle of the pool, my feet stir up the mud on the bottom and within a few moments the water is opaque with sediment. I do not want to swim in mud, so I am tempted to wade back to the shore. But if I remain still, waiting, the sediment settles to the bottom again, the water clarifies around me, and I can see its freshness, lightness and beauty. Now I can believe that this water gives life wherever it flows. Now I want to swim.
Finding the Way in the Word requires me to listen with the whole of myself. With my heart as well as my head. With my imagination as well as with my reasoning mind. It requires me to build space and silence into my everyday routines, and to become comfortable with them. It requires me to quieten my mind and let go of my fears so that I can descend within myself to the still centre where my spirit is touched by the Spirit of God. Finding the Way in the Word is careful, discerning listening not just to what the words are saying, but to the dynamics they contain and convey. Find the Way in the Word means learning to listen, not just for the meaning of the text, but for the life that it is investing in me. I am listening for the life in the Word, so that the Word can become the Bread of Life for me.
We can read Jesus’ instructions with anxiety and conclude that he is sending us out on mission with nothing. No provision. No resources. Ill-formed, inexperienced, untrained and ill-equipped. Or we can read them and conclude exactly the opposite, that Jesus wants us to be fully equipped with an understanding of faith that enables us to see that all the resources we need are indeed available.
Do we read his instructions with the eyes of faith or the eyes of fear?