One of the areas of maturity that we seek to foster in every member of King’s Cross Church is a humble yet growing confidence in coming to scripture as the rule of faith and life for every believer.
While we profess belief in the authority of the scripture for Christian living, the Word of God is often neglected in our lives. We hear sermon after sermon. We may even get commentary and insights from books, articles, and podcasts. But what of the Living Word itself? The Living Word desires to breathe life into our weary souls yet we, whether intentionally or not, have kept running away. We live at the pace of our world while the Spirit is inviting us to keep pace with him — to walk in-step with the Spirit who lives and dwells with us.
In the coming months our Community Group Ministry will return to hearing from scripture directly. We will wrestle with the text as we are called to enter a world that is bigger than our own. We will ask questions of the text as the texts asks questions of us and our lives. We will grow together, learning how to read and how to listen to the voice of God alive in the scriptures.
I understand that there may be lots of fear and anxiety when we come to scripture.
What if we interpret it wrong?
What if I get stuck?
What if our group is unable to “get anything” from it?
If we’re not used to doing this together, it will be hard. We will endure awkward silences. We will linger on questions that seem to have no answer. Yet if fear of such circumstances keeps us from engaging altogther, we will have lost out on a means by which we can grow in maturity. We will rob ourselves of an avenue where the grace of God can clearly be seen in our midst.
No one who has seriously studied and meditated on the scriptures comes out feeling like he has “mastered” God or his word. None of us. Not our pastors. Our elders. Our CG leaders. No one. At the same time we are called as his disciples to grow and learn. Studying scripture is an exercise that will humble us and bring us to worship.
In our community groups, we’re hoping to practice and adapt a method of study called the “inductive method.” It is a method utilized by many ministry organizations around the world but perhaps best championed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. This method is better detailed elsewhere but I’ll just mention here that it involves three major phases:
In this initial phase we make observations of the text asking the 5 W’s and an H: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? We look for repeated words and phrases, pay attention to seemingly awkwardly clauses, notice comparisons and contrasts. We’re just interested in observations during this phase. Try to curb that desire to rush through with interpretation. We save that for the next phase.
After we have all shared our observations, we can start to make connections and ask questions of the text. We may not get answers to every one of our questions but here we foster a curiosity and openness to scripture with expectation that God is acting in our midst. Here we seek to understand what the text means in context and we learn from one another as the Spirit speaks to us through us.
And lastly, we move to see how this text challenges our living. After all our questioning seeking to understand the meaning of the text, it would be foolish of us to ignore the call that scripture has on us. We practice knowing that this is not mere external knowledge to be gained, but a living word that wants to live in us and live through us.
If you’re new to this method, it may seem that this process seems very open-ended. It is. But we don’t read in a vacuum. We are growing as part of the living body of the church where God’s Spirit dwells and is at work in us, guiding us, teaching us.
If you’re a member of our church, I implore you to have grace on your leaders who are growing in this method with you. We need encouragement as we are also learning to trust the Spirit at work in our midst. We sometimes hold ourselves to impossible standards; guide us back to the grace offered in Jesus. It is my hope that as we intentionally move into this new season as a church, we will cultivate a love for God through studying his word. I hope that we will learn the rhythms of his heart and learn to trust the guidance of his Spirit in our midst. Our God desires to reveal himself to his people. Let us seek him with all of who we are.
I leave you with this meditation from the English preacher Charles Spurgeon who opened one of his great sermons with this encouragement to the church:
The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.Charles Spurgeon