We in the church suck at valuing scripture, reading scripture, interpreting scripture, and applying scripture. I could say it again because it bears repeating…but I don’t know how you could have missed it. But why are we so bad at it?
The response you may have had after reading that could have been one of defensiveness….”no we don’t! We preach from the bible every sunday! We just did this sunday in our series on parenting 101″…it could have been one of denial…”we’ll my church doesn’t have a problem but all these other churches everywhere around us do!”…or it could have been one of accepting the reality of how we have room to grow…we get stuck in the little ideas of the text.
Here is a quick guide to finding a Big Idea.
Finding a BIG IDEA takes time and effort.
We all think we read the bible and on some level we do. We read it. But we don’t see all the nuisances and cultural background involved and even less do we see the english grammar involved in unpacking the text! We have a hard time piecing together punctuation and sentence structure that could reveal an idea that we may not have otherwise seen.
Finding a BIG IDEA requires patience.
Rather than get excited on certain phrases and extrapolate out—Jesus rode a donkey so we shouldn’t ride horses, where two or three are gathered gives us a clearly defined model for christian community and prayer gatherings— instead, patiently work your way up to an all encompassing idea from the text. a.k.a The Messiah has arrived as prophesied and church discipline is a healthy thing.
Finding a BIG IDEA avoids getting lost in the Details.
Do you enjoy chasing rabbits down rabbit holes for hours? Do you enjoy roaming around the trees forgetting that you’re in a forest? In your pursuit of a big idea in a biblical text you may need a little more time than you thought you were going to give. Don’t get distracted by all the details, instead piece them together to find the idea that wraps them all together.
Finding a BIG IDEA is worth all of it.
As John Piper has said, raking is easy but all you get are leaves…digging is hard, but you may find diamonds. In your pursuit of the big idea in scripture you are pressing in towards the very mind of God and his intended purpose of that divinely inspired piece of scripture. Work for it, enjoy it, and apply it in your ever deepening pursuit to know God and enjoy God more.
When reading the Bible are you looking for a big idea that helps you see the text clearer or are you reading for anecdotal remedies that help you get through the day? What would you recommend for the average reader in this process?