On making the Scriptures come alive again

My Facebook friend, Jon Swanson, wrote a post recently on his 300 words blog that resonates with me. It’s entitled “Getting words off the page”.

“… when people say “I have a hard time fitting Bible reading into my schedule”, they may really mean, “I don’t read books much at all.”

The challenge to reach others in our time is to make the Bible come alive. Jon offers some suggestions to start the conversation:

  1. Listen to the Bible. Since June 2009 I’ve been an avid listener of the Daily Audio Bible, going through the Scriptures in community, one day at a time: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Since my primary learning style is auditory, this works very well for me.
  2. Print if off and read it like a blog post
  3. Have someone tell it to you like stories we’d tell one another.

In this post, I’ll share two additional suggestions.

A lesson from the deaf and hard of hearing community

Ten years ago when my family and I moved back to beautiful Cincinnati, Ohio, we were looking to get tied into the deaf community here. Our daughter is hard of hearing, and we were somewhat active in the deaf community in Dayton, Ohio, where we had lived for the previous 10 years.

One of the opportunities was a free sign language course being offered at a deaf church that meets on the west side. As part of the application of the vocabulary and culture we learned, we watched videos of someone telling stories from the Gospels to the deaf using a picture book and sign language.

What really struck me is how much context they included as they told the story. One example is the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1–10. Even now, 10 years later, it still resonates with me:

Look here. What’s this? Yes, it’s a tree. Let’s look closer. Hmm. There’s a man up in that tree. Why is he there?
Here comes another man. He’s got all these people around him. What are they doing? Why are they following him?
Now this man has stopped and is looking at the man in the tree. He’s wondering why he’s up there, too!
Ah! See? The man in the tree — his name is Zacchaeus — was short and wanted to see the other man — his name is Jesus. That’s why he climbed up in the tree!
Now the man has come down from the tree and is walking with Jesus to his house! He’s listening to what Jesus has to say. And he and his friends are having dinner with Jesus.

With the story told in that manner, I’m transported into the scene and participating in it more.

Is it time to change the version you’re reading?

I know many believers who are so loyal to the version of the Bible they read that the thought of reading another translation almost sounds… unbiblical.

Yet there are some things you pick up differently when you go through the Scriputures and read from a different translation. I’ve often discovered more meaning from reading the same passage in different translations.

Let’s look a popularly quoted verse, Psalm 23:4 from the New International Version (NIV), the King James Version (KJV), the Amplified Bible (AMP), the New English Translation (NET), and The VOICE (VOICE):

  • Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. — NIV
  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. — KJV
  • Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. — AMP
  • Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me. — NET
  • Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted. — VOICE

There is much to be drawn out from looking at just that one verse!

After reading so much from The VOICE translation last year, I fell in love with it and bought my first hardcopy Bible in about 15 years last year.

What other suggestions do you have for making the Scriptures come alive?

Thanks again, Jon, for prompting the discussion!

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