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This is My Bible

This is my Bible… 

And this is my Bible… And this is my Bible… And this is my Bible… And this is my Bible… And this is also my Bible… 

If you haven't already guessed, today's focus is on The Bible. Now, before any hasty comments, emails, or letters questioning my grasp or appreciation of this sacred text, let me begin by saying: We, United Methodists, wholeheartedly believe "the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation." We recognize and affirm that the Bible “is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice.”

Yet, if we can be honest with one another—for just a little, we may acknowledge that oftentimes we mishandle this Holy Book. At times, we misunderstand, misinterpret, or ignore the profound teachings found in these pages. We fail to struggle with the complex themes and teachings of the Holy Scriptures, and we trivialize the simple and yet complex commandments found there (love your neighbor anybody… love the immigrant… Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable… you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy…). Whether consciously or not, when we neglect these teachings, we strip them of their life-altering impact on our lives and the broader world. 

So, why does the Bible matter? While some may say that the Bible matters because it is the Word of God, there is much more to the Holy Scriptures. At its core, the Bible matters because through its pages, we encounter the living God, a God who seeks us, and desires to be in relationship with each of us, his good creation. The Bible is far more than a compilation of ancient narratives; it's a dynamic, living guide that has the power to profoundly transform how we live and move in our world.

John Wesley, the co-founder of the Methodist movement, stressed the importance of the Scriptures in his life and the life of his companions by recalling that, from the very beginning of their journey, as young men in college, they each committed to be “men of one book.” He noted, “God taught them all to make his ‘Word a lantern unto their feet, and a light in all their paths’.” This may sound a bit contradictory for a college student to commit to be a person of one Book, but Wesley was not by means rejecting other literary words, on the contrary, he was a voracious reader and prolific writer. His commitment was to live a life saturated by the Holy Scriptures, so his thoughts, words, and actions would reflect the perfect will and love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ—a love that sometimes comforts, sometimes challenges, and sometimes calls us to task so we may grow in faithfulness.

The Apostles, in 2 Timothy 3, reminds his friend, and apprentice, about the importance of the Scriptures, and the context in which they are learned. He tells Timothy, “Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” It seems that for Paul, the Scriptures are vital for gaining salvific faith. Though Paul is speaking to Timothy about the Hebrew Scriptures, that is, the Old Testament—through the fullness of the Scriptures, we can encounter God and come to faith in Jesus Christ. 

In this same verse, Paul also speaks of the environment through which Timothy learned the Scriptures. It is vital for us to remember that the journey of faith is not a solitary sport. We are called to be in community with others, and whether one realizes it or not, our engagement with the Scriptures always happens, through the lens of community. Theologian Robert W. Wall reminds us, “The Bible is not for lone rangers; it belongs to the Church, and so its interpretative practices are communal, conversational, and participatory. We learn Scripture in the company of saints.”

The Bible is a gift given to us, it is not our possession. I remember receiving my first Bible when I was a pre-teen, around the age of 10. A Bible that looked very much like this one. Until the early 2000’s there were limited translations of the Bible in Portuguese—which meant most Christians read the same thing. That Bible, as is this one, was a birthday gift from my parents. As a child of the church, I had already been deeply formed by that book. I had heard its stories, memorized verses, and been admonished about its teaching. But now I had an opportunity to enter the conversation in a new way. The gift of a Holy Bible, allowed me to participate more deeply in the ongoing dialogue about the Holy Scriptures and with the Holy Scriptures. It allowed me to enter into a new stage of my formation, as a Christian and a person. 

This gift of the Holy Bible, my first personal copy, was more than just a physical object; it was an invitation to a lifelong journey with God and His Word. It symbolized a deeper engagement with the Scriptures, a call to immerse myself in the living Word and to allow it to shape my understanding, my beliefs, and my actions. It was an opening to a world where faith and life intersect, where ancient words speak into contemporary issues, and where the timeless truths of God become personal and relevant.

But I must also remind you, and myself, that this formation did not take place in a vacuum. My life, much like yours, like the Apostle Paul, like that of Timothy, and everybody else in the world, is influenced by the social, political, geographical, and familial circumstances that surround us. We bring the fullness of our being to the reading of the scriptures so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be re-formed and transformed.

In a world that often feels fragmented and superficial, the Bible offers depth, meaning, and connection. The Bible connects us not only to God but to a community of believers across time and space. It anchors us in a narrative much bigger than ourselves, a story of redemption, love, and hope. 

The Apostles is correct, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.” 

How is the Bible speaking into your life today? What new insights or challenges might it be presenting to you? How might you respond to this living dialogue with God? 

The Bible is not just a book of the past; it's a guide for today and a promise for the future. As we read, reflect, and respond to the Scriptures, we become active participants in this grand, divine narrative. Let’s cherish it, engage with it, and allow it to transform us, as we walk this journey of faith together. Let us approach the Bible with humility and openness, ready to be shaped and formed by its teachings. Let us read it not just as individuals, but as a community, supporting and learning from one another. And let us allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in this journey, revealing the truth, and bringing the words to life in our hearts and minds.

Discipleship Guide Week 2 Wesleyan Way
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