Before the shutdown, the Lord asked me to approach Scripture differently for a season. For 18 months, I didn’t read the Word. I listened to it using an audio app. My bible was not in my lap each morning as it had been for many years. The intent of the exercise was to help me approach Scripture in a simple and uncluttered way.
For example, I wanted to experience what it was like to hear Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians read as it would have been read in a homegroup setting without outside interpretation. When Paul’s letter was circulated among the various home meetings in the city, those present would have listened to the text being read like it was intended, as a letter, not as an academic work. As I sat each morning and listened to Scripture, I heard things for the first time that years of study did not produce.
One of our challenges, as we have the Word taught to us, is the interpretation, and resulting teaching we receive may have been developed in a seminary or university setting where it was pulled apart, examined, and then taught back to us through the filter of a particular framework of theology. You don’t need a seminary or university graduate to do this – anyone with an opinion can present the Word in this way. When this happens, we aren’t getting the Word in its most simple form.
We have many filters in place as we read the Word – personal, familial, and cultural filters. As the Church explores simplicity out of necessity, quite possibly, that simplification will impact more than a familiar meeting model. Maybe it will affect all areas of our faith and how we relate to God, the Church, and the nations. If there is a positive side to all the restrictions taking place, I think it could be the rediscovery of an original simplicity intended for all areas of our faith – something the Lord wanted for us all along.