In my post “What I Learned From The Great Divorce,” I shared three levels of spiritual understanding for a book: reading it, seeing it preformed, and discussing it afterward. These have parallels to our spiritual journey.
I was intrigued when I read C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. However, my primary reaction was confusion. There was too much for me to grasp, especially in one read.
The same is true about the Bible. It’s certainly an intriguing book, but a common response is confusion. There is much there—and we will never fully grasp it all, especially if we read and study it in isolation.
That’s not to imply reading the Bible is without value. Bible study is important, critically so. But reading the Bible should never be the sole means for spiritual growth and knowing God. We need more.
2. Watch and Listen
Analogous to attending a play is going to church. There’s something valuable about the shared experience. When we see and hear the minister talk about the Bible, our understanding deepens.
However, church is a passive experience. With the extent of our involvement limited to singing along with the musicians, we mostly watch. The rest of the service is one way, with our leaders performing and us observing. There needs to be more.
Talking about the play (or the book) allows for interaction. It’s with the give and take of dialogue that deeper understanding emerges.
The application is a faith community that allows members to mutually edify and minister to one another, not passively receiving (as in church), but actively engaging with each other: sharing insights, offering encouragement, and suggesting application.
It’s iron sharpening iron, the intersection of belief with practice. It’s spirituality at its best.
When it comes to spiritual understanding, reading the Bible is good, going to church is better, but existing in community is best. May we do all three, as we focus on what’s best.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.