“If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? A book must be like an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.” ~George Steiner, 1970
Three of God’s greatest prophets — Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and John — were given the Word of God and told to eat it. Eat this scroll. Eugene Peterson writes about this spiritual way of ingesting Scripture in Eat This Book. His point, and the point that’s been made by God’s people and the Christian community for centuries, is that we don’t just learn or study or use the Scriptures; we take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love and cups of cold water and missions and encouragement and worship and justice and service in the name of our Father. We live and breathe and eat and sleep the Word of God. It’s the Word of God that transforms us into the image of the Christ. But it doesn’t transform us if we’re merely reading it.
We have to eat it.
Reading Scripture is not just an objective act of looking at the words and discerning their meaning. We can’t read the Bible the same way we read a novel or a cook book or a biography or a car manual. It’s different.
Scripture is a revelation. It’s our God revealing himself and his ways to us. He’s not telling us something as much as he’s showing himself to us. Revelation. The Holy Bible as authored by the creator of heaven and earth.
Peterson writes that, however broad our inspiration theology, “the Christian church has always held that God is somehow or other responsible for this book in a revelatory way, in contrast to a merely informational way. The authority of the Bible is immediately derived from the authorial presence of God. In other words, this is not an impersonal authority, an assemblage of facts or truths. This is not the bookish authority that we associate with legislation codified in a law library, or the factual authority of a textbook on mathematics. This is revelation, personally revealed—letting us in on something, telling us person to person what it means to live our lives as men and women created in the image of God.”
Eat this book.
I’m preaching this Sunday about the Word of God and its power to transform lives. I may be writing about that topic here for the rest of the week.