An unavoidable side effect of working at a church as a Pastoral Intern is that you are around God’s Word all the time. Seemingly every picture on the wall has a Bible verse in it, every meeting opens with a devotion, and every conversation is in some way theological. No one bats an eye walking into a room to see a white board filled with Biblical Greek, and the office shelves are filled with enough Christian books to stock a small seminary. And that is all before I even sit down to start my daily responsibilities of reading commentaries, listening to sermons, and preparing Biblical teachings.
I love it. This environment is a blessing of blessings, and I have grown so much in my faith this summer. There are many times while away at college that I long for a community like this one—to be back swimming in God’s Word all day every day—but I have also learned that this place is not without its perils.
Throughout the summer, I found that I am at risk of making two mistakes in regard to my attitude toward God’s Word: the Bible can become too ordinary and the Bible can become too academic.
First, the Bible can become too ordinary. Being exposed to God’s Word as consistently as I have been over the past few months, it becomes easy to forget the miracle of it and to take for granted the gravity of the book I hold in my hand. To call the Bible the “Word of God” recognizes that it is a medium by which God has communicated with humanity—or more specifically, to me. Our God is not silent; He has broken through the boundaries of our physical world and spoken to His creation through those He inspired. That makes the Bible anything but ordinary.
Second, the Bible can become too academic. The Bible is a deep well of endless study, and it should be approached with utmost academic diligence, but when it is reduced to merely a sort of textbook, it loses the hallmark of its glory. The Word is not simply a way to know about God; it is a way to know Him personally. To consider the Bible as primarily academic takes away the relationship available through it; it distracts from the personal experience of God to which the whole book testifies. That is a trap in which I do not want to fall.
The Bible should never be made less than what it is. The Word of God, if thought about properly, should evoke awe, wonder, reverence, and response. As J.D. Greear encourages in Gaining by Losing, “Study the gospel—not like a seminarian studies doctrine to prepare for an exam, but the way you would study a sunset that has left you speechless, or the way a soldier longing for his fiancée studies her picture.”
And what is it about the Gospel of the Bible that elicits this response? Well, remember what—or, rather, who—else is called the Word of God! God not only speaks to us from a distance through the pages of the Bible, but He came up close in Jesus Christ. The book of John tells us about Jesus, who is called the Word, because once again God broke through the boundaries of our physical world to reach us, and this time, He did so by entering it himself. Jesus Christ—the Word—became flesh, and then He died that we might not just know about Him but know Him personally and enjoy His relationship forever. That is a Word which can only result in worship. May it never lose its wonder!
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Steven Ruane is a pastoral intern at Grace. He is a junior at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) studying for majors in psychology and comparative religion. He is a lifelong attender of Grace and is excited to serve in the Pastoral Internship Program, hoping to gain a fuller understanding of the Lord’s leading in his life as it is expressed through his desires, gifts, and experiences as an intern.