What comes to mind when you think of the Bible?
We polled a group of Gen Z Christians of color this very question. One person replied, “The breath of God painting a picture of how life and love is supposed to be.” Another said, “Scripture is a safe landing or grounding place, a framework of reality,” to which they also added, “I don't always live in [this reality], but it exists for me to step into.” A third associated the Bible with an image of “returning home after a long time away.”
I was intrigued by these answers. In our largely unchurched American society, many Christians today, including Gen Z Christians and Christians of color, still want to engage with God and understand who God is and what he has to say. We may not all be sitting in pews on Sunday morning, but we still long for real, authentic and even creative engagement with God’s word. Many of us still believe that the Bible has the potential for meaning in our life.
It is nothing short of divine providence that, despite centuries of war, hate, racism, slavery, misogyny, colonialism and systemic injustice in which the Bible has often been wielded as a tool of oppression, that the goodness and beauty of God’s word remains. Fallen humans create fallen interpretations of the Bible and then live out in accordance with those fallen ideals. As humans, we’ve justified a whole host of evils in the name of Scripture and yet, somehow, there are still followers of Jesus today who love God’s word and are seeking to deconstruct the colorblind and racist hermeneutics that have saturated our society for far too long. I thank God for that.
As Christians in the 21st century, we still need the Bible. More than that, we need to understand why we need it. The Bible was never about making us feel good or giving us power to wield over others. Rather it’s about beholding and becoming. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” The more we read and submit ourselves to God’s word, the more we are supposed to become like Jesus.
This StoryArc on Scripture is all about tasting and seeing that the triune God in the Bible is good. He is our loving father, our path and our light. The more we come to him, the more he will transform us into the image of his son, Jesus (Romans 8:29). In other words, when we read the Bible, it’s supposed to change us - how we think, how we feel, how we live out and see the world. Spending time in God’s word isn’t even about becoming “smarter.” It’s about becoming more filled with the peace of Christ and living as Jesus did.
Have you ever thought of the Bible like that before? This approach to the Bible may be new for some of you and that’s OK. There’s a lot we need to deconstruct in ourselves, including myths about the Bible and its wrong and harmful uses. As we journey through this StoryArc on Scripture, you may learn new things about yourself, about your past and the voices - both helpful and harmful - along the way. Take it slow. Be gentle with yourself. And keep clinging to God’s word. You won’t regret it.