Have you ever read the book Grace Walk by Steve McVey? It’s one of my faves. Just read this statement from the book: “A grace perspective lets us see the commands [in Scripture] not as obligations, but as opportunities for the life of Christ to be revealed through us…Set free by grace, we don’t face the commandments with self-condemnation, but with spiritual anticipation that Jesus Christ will reveal His life in us.” McVey goes on to say that when Jesus was asked by a religious leader (I never stopped to think about that…a religious leader, who wanted to make sure he did everything right, was the one who asked Jesus) what the greatest commandment was (or what his main focus should be in order to be “successful”), Jesus answered with Mark 12:30-31. Jesus didn’t say to “be holy as I am holy” or “to read and meditate on Scripture day and night”. No, He said to fall more in love with Him and love others well.
The Bible’s Role
McVey goes on to discuss the role of the Bible in our everyday lives. He said we are taught that the way to live right by God is to read and memorize Scripture. However, he said as a young man, Scripture alone was not enough to empower him to say no to harmful things. He would memorize, recite, and carry around verse cards to no avail. He explains, “The Bible is a weapon against the powers of darkness. However, it isn’t possible to recite verses to the devil and expect him to run in fear…As you abide in Christ moment by moment, your love for Him will enable you to resist temptation by the power of His life within you.”
I started thinking through Scripture…and I thought of James 4. James explains that the way to resist the enemy is to “draw near to God”. James doesn’t say anything about reading and memorizing Scripture. He writes about pursuing an intimate relationship with Jesus. Satan is intimidated by intimacy with Jesus because Jesus is the only person he can’t beat. Don’t forget…Satan can quote Scripture. He used Scripture in Matthew 4 to get Jesus to worship him. Interesting. It isn’t Scripture that will overpower the enemy – it’s Jesus’s actual power.
Secondly, I thought of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 where Paul is writing about the “messenger of Satan” sent to torment him. He didn’t get rid of the affliction through Scripture memorization or recitation. Just like I didn’t get healthy from reading the Scriptures. Jesus didn’t even tell Paul to handle the situation that way. What is the answer? God’s grace. Intimacy with Jesus. Wow.
I Can’t Read Enough.
I am just marinating in that right now because it is blowing up everything I have held to for a while. The way I deal with my struggles and failures is not by “doing” anything. I can’t memorize enough, read enough, serve enough, or say no enough. If I could, that would fly in the face of the Gospel. Why? Because “doing” something means I am relying on myself, not on Jesus.
Scripture was used as such a weapon in my life for so many years. When I started getting healthy and deconstructing who Jesus actually was and what He actually says, I pulled away from the Scriptures for a season. Now – lets take a pause here because some of you may be freaking out a bit. Let me explain…
I had grown up in an environment where acceptance and approval was confused. I was accepted when people approved of my behavior. Because this was my experience with humans, I figured that’s how Jesus interacted with me. When I’d do my morning “quiet time” as a student and young adult, I would spend about 20 minutes agonizing in detailed confession. Then I would spend 5-10 minutes reading the Scriptures – looking for ways I had failed and how Jesus needed to “fix” me. My relationship with Jesus was built on condemnation and guilt. And this is not the Jesus of the Scriptures.
Is the Bible Safe?
So for the past ten years, I have had to rediscover safety in the Scriptures. The Bible shouldn’t be a weapon used to beat me up and tear me down. It’s a tool I can use to find out more about Jesus. But I’ve had to go slow and take my time in this process. First, I have learned how to have an intimate relationship with Jesus outside of the Scriptures. As a result, I’ve learned to pray more regularly – I have random convos with Jesus now all of the time. I connect with him when I’m outside, or listening to worship music, or reading a good book. My relationship and intimacy with him has expanded as I’ve taken a break from the Scriptures and I’m so grateful!
I am learning to come to Jesus in honest surrender, instead of doing more Bible studies and projects for healing, I am praying prayers like, “Jesus, I am getting defeated time and time again. I am struggling. I want You, but in all honesty, I want this “thing” too. You live inside of me. You deal with it. I am trusting You for victory.”
Hear me: I am not saying the Scriptures are evil and should be avoided. What I am saying is that some of you shouldn’t fear taking a break from something that may be putting a choke hold around your neck and seek to find Jesus in other ways as well. Here’s the safe guard: I took my break from the Scriptures in community, counselling, and while still attending a solid church. I did not do this in isolation. That would be dangerous (see Proverbs 18:1 in the ESV).
Jesus is Safe.
I just want you to know that if your relationship with Jesus was wounded or stalled due to some misguided practice of acceptance and approval, you can relearn Who Jesus is and how He operates, it will just take time. For a while, the only books in the Scriptures I’d read were the Gospels. The Gospels are basically biographies or memoirs of Jesus. Rediscovering who he is and how he operates helps me exhale and feel safe with him again.
One more thing – the Jesus some of you walked away from isn’t even Jesus. You walked away from a Jesus arrogant Christians made up. Why not try coming back for a minute and seeing Who he actually is?