Encountering God in the text

by Karla Braun
Encountering God in the text

“Interpretive Model Explanation”
Method “Starting with the Text”
with Mark Wessner and Doug Heidebrecht

In marriage and family, we dig deep into relationship.  For these primary relationships in life to be enriching and long-lasting, they must go beyond the surface of life. They must engage our emotions and motivations – what is most personal to us.

We open up our lives to one another – not merely out of duty, but in a personal and loving relationship.  The most meaningful relationship is found when we are able to have a deeper love and understanding of one another.

As we approach those closest to us in a listening and open posture, we must also approach Scripture in the same way.  When considering the need to and the tools for interpreting God’s Word to us, it is essential that we do not merely approach it as a book or information but as a personal letter that speaks to us.

By encountering God’s Word, we are approaching Godself.

Consider Nehemiah 8 where Ezra and the Elders of Israel open up Scripture with the people of God.

Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground (Nehemiah 8:5–6).

As the Word was read and proclaimed, hearts were impacted. The people heard the Word, found understanding, and turned themselves to the Lord in a personal way, praising and obeying him. Understanding led to repentance which led to obedience.

As we consider how to interpret the Bible, let us go with anticipation into this story of God.

As Mennonite Brethren, we enter this interpretation work together… with every believer’s voice being given opportunity to bring understanding.

We come with a posture of leaning toward God, being open to God speaking to us through the family of God and the Holy Spirit’s illumination.  We come with intentionality; we come with the hope and expectation of the Holy Spirit speaking to us personally and corporately.

May we work to truly and accurately encounter God through our study of the Bible.

May we identify ways to incorporate joint interpretation into our lives and church family practices.

May we come to the Lord expectantly, prayerfully, open.

May we embrace the journey of what God is doing through His word and in our lives.

Ryan van Kuik
pastor, Nechako Community Church, Vanderhoof, B.C.

 

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