Now, when I think of a distraction with a religious nature, my opinion is this – they are the most powerful of all distractions – hands down. Here’s why I say this.
I believe every person inherently knows things intuitively; viz., you can know something intuitively without being clear about it in your understanding. It’s like knowing something without being able to express it, then you hear someone speak and articulate it, and your understanding becomes flooded with the new content.
Did you ever read a book, and are convinced the author somehow got inside your head? That’s what we would call a great book, one that’s difficult to lay down in order for you to mow the grass or feed the livestock. The opposite would be true. If you’re plowing through a book, and it all feels like hard work; meaning this author has not gained access to your intuitive space, it’s like trying to push a rope uphill!
That brings me back to the subject of distractions. Jesus is engaged with some Jewish leaders about the testimonies others have given about Him throughout history. He is making a comment about their diligence in studying the scriptures. His comment is simply amazing, and confusing.
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. – John 5:39
These men were scholars and knowing the scriptures was their vocation. For example aside from knowing the Torah, its commentary, the Mishna, was not something written down like the Torah. No, the Mishna was an ongoing commentary that was memorized and passed on from generation to generation verbally. These were the guys Jesus was speaking to in this excerpt from John’s gospel.
In essence, he was saying to them, they prized themselves in knowing the scriptures, and had mistaken that knowledge for having the life of God, and at the same time refused coming to and knowing him, whom the scriptures spoke about. Now that’s what I call a powerful distraction!
At the very core of all religious life is its holy writ. For Christians, it’s the Bible; for Jews, it’s the Torah; for Muslims, it’s the Koran; for Mormons, the Book of Mormon. The core value and beliefs for all these religions lay within their respective texts. Despite their different views, doctrines and philosophies, there is one thing they all hold in common. The way in which mankind approaches their peculiar writ is basically the same; viz., the way they think. Notice Jesus said, “You search the scriptures diligently because you think they contain eternal life”. Don’t they?
Obviously, these men were mistaken with their thinking in that they were searching for something that could not be found in the written text. Hmmm…. Ok, so let me say quickly, I do not question nor do I find fault with the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. On the other hand I do not claim to understand every bit for that matter. For those parts, I’ve learned to treat with respect and reverence, not doubt. For the parts, and there are many, in which I find my understanding alive with either conviction or excitement, I have realized that the life I look for is not in the text, but in its author.
I realize this post is getting lengthy in that I haven’t even dealt with the distraction at hand, but I hope this will all serve a very good purpose. A friend of mine once told me, “The scriptures aren’t true because they are written, they are true, and therefore, are written”. A subtle difference perhaps, but the subtlety make all the difference! Thanks for that, Bill!
Ever since Adam, both male and female, ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, we’ve been eating from its attractive looking boughs ever since. Our separation from God imprisoned us to a life of limited, small thinking, which is evidenced by the way we grope in the dark describing the environment by what we can only see and feel through my senses.
Sense dominated life separates man from God. He comes into our world of senses wanting to draw us into His world of reality. His entrance into our senses often offers the kind of testimony to us that plead for extenuation. In others words if in our circumstances what we see does match our understanding, the rightness of our own judgment rules and the case is dismissed rather curtly. Generally speaking, man lives in a very small world confined by his senses. Our senses look for certainty in the actualities of life. Being certain of my actual life is rewarding to my senses and I continue living thus, addicted to my sensate mode. I try incessantly to make sense of life and all its challenges and will not relent until my senses receive the confirmation of certitude. Living by our sensory perception leading the way will never take us to the truth. Memory and intellect are part of our sensory faculties. I can study the scriptures with my mind and gain a perspective about the revelation of Christ without knowing Him personally. Knowing Jesus personally is not possible with intellectual understanding alone. – Luke 10:22
Revelation is by the Holy Spirit and only the Holy Spirit can really show me the Truth. I need never fear the vagueness of my actual circumstances, because the biggest things in life are vague as far as expression goes. God is in the midst of my vague uncertainty for then, I come to know the Reality of perfect Love as I sacrifice the natural life to the spirit. As He is in this world so are we.
All of that to say, until my thinking is renewed, I read the scriptures with distraction, because I approach them from an addiction to my senses need for certainty in actual life.
So there you are. # 1 Religious Distraction – My approach to reading the Bible.