Sometimes “goodbye” isn’t goodbye. It’s more than that. This may come as a shock to some of you, but I’m a nerd. A big nerd. I own exactly 7 Star Wars t-shirts. Anyway, as part of being a nerd, I am fascinated by language. And sometimes a phrase doesn’t literally translate from one language to the next. For example, “goodbye” in Spanish is “¡Adiós!”...or more literally “to God.” In more formal situations if someone is leaving for a long, dangerous journey, you would say “Vaya con dios,” which is “go with God.” In fact, the linguists say that even our word “goodbye” is the result of hundreds of years of shortening the phrase “God be with thee.” I say all that to say this: embedded in our ordinary, everyday life is the notion of going, being, and living WITH GOD.
In fact, the “With God” Life can be traced through the heart of the entire Bible (as outlined here in this article by the Renovaré Team). Professing faith in Christ is the beginning of your faith journey, but hopefully it’s not the end. Everything that comes after takes a focused, determined effort to learn and ultimately live a life “With God.” The fancier name we give to this concept is “Spiritual Formation.”
Now, there are all kinds of things you can do to foster spiritual growth, but today I just want to talk about reading the Bible. As pervasive as the Bible is in American culture, it’s a bit of a conundrum. People everywhere seem to have tremendous faith in the Bible without actually knowing what is in the Bible, let alone how to understand it. Many people read out of a sense of something missing in their lives, or they go looking for facts in an effort to prove someone else wrong. While some of these efforts might wind up successful, they often miss the point. Reading the Bible that way can result in us “trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than a means of entering the process of transforming our whole person and our whole life into Christlikeness” (Richard Foster’s Life with God Bible, page xxvi).
When I used to teach the 6th grade Bible class, my intro lesson was this: If you read for knowledge and/or need, you can get off track, confused by the details. So what’s the purpose of scripture? It’s about the WHO and NEW - the WHO is a revelation of who God is and how God moves in history and the NEW is about your own personal renewal, or how to find new life with God, ultimately to transform you to be more like Christ.
Rob speaks of “moving the equator.” Well, when it comes to scripture, sometimes you have to change the way you look at scripture to find a way to let scripture change you.
So sometime this week (today even!) dust off one those Bibles you have on the shelf, and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself: “What does this tell me about who God is?” and “How can this help me become more like Christ?” If you do, you’ll be one step closer to the “With God” Life.