A Bible sits on a wooden table next to a blue mug filled with coffee.
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A Better Way to Read the Bible

I missed out on something crucial when I learned how to read the Bible.

I learned to ask three simple questions: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?

What does the Bible say?

If there were words or concepts I didn’t understand, I needed to consult a study Bible or a dictionary or ask someone else for help. 

What does the Bible mean?

Here I tried to understand the Bible in its own context. What was it like for people living in Corinth and being invited to a dinner party with meat that had been sacrificed to idols? How did Jewish people understand holiness? 

What does the Bible mean to me?

And here I could take what I learned and apply it to my own life. I don’t have to make decisions about temples in my neighborhood erected to worship other gods, but I approach the “gods” of commerce every time I turn on my computer and see an advertisement. 

For a better way to read the Bible, here’s the crucial question I needed to learn to ask:

What does the Bible mean for us

I learned to read the Bible as a spiritual guide for my own individual life rather than one that would both connect me to others and challenge me to become far more aware of the needs and hopes and dreams and pain of others. 

The Bible was written to us (to y’all!) and for us (throughout history and across the world). Not to me or for me.  

It still has individual implications, and God’s Spirit still uses the words of Scripture to care for, convict, challenge, and comfort us personally. But if we read the Bible only through the lens of individualism, we will distort the message of God for our own lives and for our world.


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