As a sports fan, there’s not much that’s more exciting for me than to be in the live experience of a NFL game, especially in prime time when my team is winning and the crowd is electric. I went to a game last night – Sunday Night Football on NBC – where the experience was as good as it gets (except for the playoffs) with its energy, hard-hits, noise, and hype.
That’s why I was puzzled when I left my seat, walked into the concourse for a restroom break and a $6 soda, and discovered that crowds of fans were watching the same game from televisions on the interior of the stadium instead of from their seats.
They paid for those seats and the experience of watching a live game in person. Instead, they choose to experience from a screen what was taking place just yards away. Perhaps they had nosebleed seats or the person sitting behind them was drunk and obnoxious. And I understand that some fans want to watch the game from the best camera angle with replays and commentary. It’s true that you miss a few details from the seats. And then there are others who are mostly interested in socializing and bringing the tailgate inside the stadium once the game begins.
But in my mind, they’re missing the point of the atmosphere, the ambience, the connection with fellow fans and the team. When you’re in the stadium, there’s so much more to watching the game than just watching the game.
If you have access to the experience for yourself, why depend on someone else’s perspective or lens?
But in the concourse, I caught myself, nachos in hand, drawn like a moth to the screen. (The nachos were for my mom, not for me, by the way. Those things are gross). I watched a few plays before I remembered that I wanted to watch, cheer, and engage in the action myself.
In that moment, I realized that I do this in my relationship with God. I read Christian books instead of the actual words of Christ in the Bible. I depend on pastors and teachers to lead me in spiritual growth. I make excuses for not taking the time and effort to engage with Jesus directly, as is my beautiful birthright as a child of God in which the Holy Spirit lives.
Of course, I am a big fan of Christian authors and pastors and teachers, but when I choose to limit my experience of God to what they offer, I become a second-hand spectator.
The Bible was written for me and for you. It’s not meant to be understood only by the brilliant while baffling the rest of us. We don’t have to satisfy scholarly and spiritual benchmarks before we experience God. Because the Author of this story loves us, He can breathe into us a life-changing passion for His Word. His invitation into a personal relationship is the most engaging, exciting experience we can ever receive.
And I’m learning that when I desire the Word, it begins to shift my perspectives. I don’t want it solely through second-hand knowledge, or even my own cloudy lens. I want to experience the Author and learn from His perspective.
“We are like Moses. The Bible is our burning bush – a faithful declaration of the presence and holiness of God. We ask it to tell our about ourselves, and all the while it is telling us about “I AM.” ~ Jen Wilkin
As I read Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, I’m challenged by the realization that I often come to Scripture, asking it to tell me about myself. Who am I? What should I do? (These questions are similar to those that Moses asked when the Lord first called him in Exodus.)
But I’m learning to read the Bible, not looking for myself in the text. I used to subtly seek biblical knowledge with self-serving motives: What does this say about me? How can I know God’s will? How can I be better? How can I have more faith? How can I be comforted?
It’s a shift in perspective to learn to approach the Bible with spiritual ears trained to God’s declaration about Himself: Simply – what does this say about God? Knowing I AM is all I need to know.
As Jen Wilkin says, “The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is.” And so, I am learning to approach the Word for the delight and discovery of knowing God.
The Bible is so much more than a guidebook, more than stories and heroes, more than regulations and commands. It’s not a means of information – it’s the way of transformation.
King Jesus invites you and me to experience Him personally, to get into the game, so to speak. He paid a high price for our access, so let’s enter fully and there find our deepest joy. The story is as good as it gets, and He wins.