Encouraging and discipling our students to be a people of the Biblical text has become my number one passion in campus ministry. So many times when we read the Bible we gloss over things that don’t make sense or that we don’t understand. Other times we try to logic it out to fit into our westernized way of thinking. Our challenge with students is to help them understand that the text was written to make us ask questions, to dig deeper in order to gain greater insight and understanding. I believe this is essential to discipleship, especially in the campus culture.
Let’s paint a quick picture of my understanding of a bit of Jewish culture. You are 5 years old and ready to head off to school. From ages 5-10 you will learn different things… different subjects if we want to refer to it that way… but… the main objective is to memorize the five books of the Torah.
Remember, in the time of Jesus they didn’t have printing presses, so it’s not like they could just pull out the Torah and just start memorizing it.
At age 10, the best of the best would move on in their schooling and the rest would begin apprenticing in the family business. The ones that went on, from age 10-13 would work to memorize the rest of the Tanakh or essentially the rest of the Old Testament. Only the best of the best of the best would move on to disciple under a rabbi.
Scripture was such an important part of life that those who trained under a rabbi could finish a sentence of the Torah or Tanakh that the rabbi would begin to quote!
I’m not saying that we have to memorize the whole Bible in order to be good disciples of Jesus. But we do need to be people of the text! Not just reading it but digging deeper to understand things that challenge our thinking. Ask questions of the text, who was it originally written to? What was going on in their lives when it was received? Who wrote it? What was the context? What’s the main point of the passage or story? How does it apply to me now? When we embrace Scripture as a narrative of God’s love and not just a rule book then we begin to see things with a deeper understanding. It’s like a treasure chest within a treasure chest and we have two sets of keys. One that unlocks the outer treasure chest and as we grow in our understanding, as we grow in our awe, respect, and humility before God, our knowledge and wisdom begins to grow and we learn to unlock the inner treasure chest.
Live life in a way that is saturated with the text, evident in every aspect of daily life. Be people of the text, don’t just read it, live it!