I’ve been around the block.
When it comes to studying the Bible, I’ve made my way through this method and that format, using these tools and those materials. I’ve studied with the help of this translation and that paraphrase. I’ve considered his detailed commentary and her in-depth workbook…
After all, if you’re like me and you take God’s Word seriously, you’ll go around the block again and again for even a GLIMPSE of His truth in those sacred pages.
I’m beginning to wonder, though, if all of our methods for studying and approaching the scriptures can’t be summed up in two painfully simple (but potentially loaded) questions:
SO WHAT? I’ve just read this story in the Bible – SO WHAT? What’s the big deal? What difference does it make? Why does it matter that Jesus said this (or that David did that)? Seriously – what’s the big whoop?
How many times have you read a biblical text and failed to think about the reason those words were written? How often do you open and close your Bible without pausing to consider why that passage on this day?
‘SO WHAT?’ is an invitation to dig down to the crux of the matter, to the root of the text, deep into the heart of a God whose words are important enough to have endured thousands of years in order to be spoken into your life today. It may not be the most scholarly approach to the study of God’s words, but ‘SO WHAT?’ cuts through the Christian-ese and pretense to usher you into an honest assessment of the impact of scripture on a very real YOU in a very real world. If we cannot figure out the ‘SO WHAT?’ there is simply no point in moving forward to the ‘NOW WHAT?’
Yet it is the ‘NOW WHAT?’ that separates the spiritual tweens from the wise and devoted gray-hairs in the Kingdom of God! It’s the discipline of asking God to move you from the classroom of Bible study into the internship of “doing the Word” (James 1:22) that determines whether your efforts at learning will ultimately bear fruit or die fruitless – its growth tragically stunted inside of your head.
NOW WHAT? Asks the question that the faint of heart will avoid at all costs.
NOW WHAT? Forces the hand to be played and the play to be made.
NOW WHAT? Puts skin on the bones of a passive faith, bringing Jesus to life again and again in our love-starved, faith-starved world.
‘NOW WHAT?’ is the question that burns Spirit-fire within the believer whose curiosity cannot be quenched. For if we faithfully ask the question, we have no choice but to join the Author in His work as it is being written on the pages of the lives all around us.
To ask ‘NOW WHAT?’ is to drink deeply of the living water offered by the Savior, and then to take buckets of that very same Water to dehydrated souls, wherever they live.
No study of the Bible is complete without the ‘NOW WHAT?’
Because the Word of God is not passive, but ALIVE with the power of the resurrected Christ! ACTIVE with the movement of the living Spirit of God!
The SO WHAT? NOW WHAT? Bible Study will cramp your style, make you look like a fool, get underneath your skin and make you squirm.
Doesn’t that sound GREAT?! I’m in!