Do you know how to read?

As Bonhoeffer continues to speak of the community of the church in Life Together, he turns his attention to the Bible. He speaks of the need for the Scripture to be read when the community gathers. As he discusses the place of the Scripture in the community, he details some interesting problems we have as we relate to Scripture.

First, he says we have to be careful we do not take the Scriptures as fragments of devotional reading. He says, “Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such. I’ve met many Christians who have some really bad ideas about God, themselves, and this world because they began to break up the Scripture without seeing the big picture. I’ve spoken with many people who get hung up on some Old Testament law that seemed so obscure and strange. But everything is meant to be taken in the context of the whole – or the most important law of God – Love God and love others. So, while there is value in devotional readings and examination of small amounts of Scripture, we must balance that by seeking to understand the whole.

The second issue Bonhoeffer addresses is our failure to follow the big picture when we read large portions of Scripture. He says, “If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend even a chapter of an Old Testament in sequence, then this can only fill us with profound shame…” Now, there is a sense in which our readings will be too much for us in that we will never fully grasp the complexity of all passages of Scripture. But, we have to push ourselves to be better readers, better listeners. Too many adults think their ability to read is locked in and make no effort to push themselves to read in a way that asks questions, analyzes the parts, places those parts together in a whole, and revaluate their lives in light of it.

No matter how educated or how spiritual we might be. We can all grow in our ability to read, publicly and privately, the Scripture. If we really believe it will change us, we ought to be willing to fix our attention and turn our ears to knowing and soaking in the Scripture.


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