I have been in church my whole life. I have read the Bible many times over. I have read the parables. I have always read them and thought about how they applied to me. I also thought about the person in the story and what they must have been going through. God has been showing me some pretty amazing stuff lately. Now, let me begin to say I know what I am going to tell you, you already know. I am a slow learner. I am one that has to be told thousands of times then He takes my blinders off and I get it. This is one of those times.
I have been doing a lot of reading here lately. As I was doing some of my reading God began to once again take off my blinders. I was thinking about the man with leprosy. “And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”…” (Mark 1:40-41) This scripture just popped into my head recently. When things like this happen I know it must be a God thing. So, I began to ask what it was I was supposed to glean from this. Right away the answer came. God has shown me for years I would read scripture. Like this one for example and I would think, “Ok, so Christ took the Leper and made Him clean.” I get it. There were lepers in Jesus time and they were outcasts. Jesus came along had compassion on them, healed them and they were made clean. Simple, right? There is always a message for us even when things seem so simple. God showed me that I was once a leper. Now not in the sense I had leprosy, but in the sense I was unclean. There was a time I was an outcast as much as this leper was and just like this leper I found Christ and asked Him to heal me. He did and I was made clean.
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-11) This is the next scripture He called to my mind. He reminded me of a time others could find me guilty, once again not of adultery, but of sin. I have never done anything bad enough to be convicted of a crime, or punished as this lady, but I have sinned against God and humankind. There have been times I am sure someone would like to have seen me punished in some way or other, but Christ stepped in and freed me. Once again the words, “Go and sin no more” could very easy have been said to me. Christ revealed to me I was an adulteress in a sense.
What God was revealing to me was I was reading the Bible, but I need to read the Bible as if I was the character in the story or in the scripture He was talking about. In other words, make the scriptures personal. This is one time we can make it all about ourselves and its okay. This changes things a bit doesn’t it? I could be guilty of being the young rich ruler who didn’t want to give up his possessions and follow Christ. Ouch! I could be guilty of being Martha instead of a Mary. He was teaching me to read and understand the scriptures as if they were written just for me.
I am beginning to understand I am not to read the scripture as a bystander, but as an active participant. Every time I read scripture I am to place myself in the scripture. I am to read it as if Paul, or Timothy, or John or Matthew or anyone else was talking to me. What are they telling me?
Now I know for many of you this is not new stuff. Many of you already apply it and read the scripture like this, but for some this may be a new concept. You may not have thought about making the Bible personal. If God has revealed it to me, then there is someone else that needs to hear this too. Or may be it just needs to be a reminder for those of you who have forgotten to do this.
This is the week we will read about Holy Week. I know you have heard these scriptures a lot over the course of your life, but this week go back and make it personal. Were you in the crowds of people who praised Christ and sang Hosanna in the Highest? Were you one of those who yelled crucify Him? You and I both say we would not yell crucify Him, but when have we heard others use His name in a wrong manner or degrade Christ and we did nothing? We did not defend Him; we just turned our backs and walked away. In a sense we yell crucify Him when we don’t defend Him and when we let the world condemn Him.
Are you Pilot? Have you ever been Pilot? In some of my darkest days when I lost my brother or son I could easily have turned Christ over to the crowd. I was angry for what had happened. How could He let such things happen? How could He let me lose two of some of the most important people in my life? Have you ever wanted walk away from Christ and let the world have Him to do as they please?
Have you been a Peter and denied Christ? I can honestly say I have. If we put ourselves in the story the story becomes more than a story for us. It becomes real; it’s our lives. If you have accepted Christ you once was a leper. You may have been an outcast at some time, then Christ came and made you clean and now you belong. Just like the adulteress we all have sinned, but Christ has come in and wiped our sins away and has told us to, “go and sin no more.” Take time this week find your favorite story or scripture and place yourself in the Bible. If there is a name take that name out and put your name in.
I know I have done this in the past, but I think God knows I have gotten out of the habit. It’s time to get back to reading the scripture as if God was talking to me. I think reading the Bible will come alive even more for me as He reveals the message He has for me.
He has a message for you, but first you need to read it, understand it, and then apply it to your life. What message does Christ have for you this week?
Dear Lord, I know at times I have read the Bible not really thinking about the message you have for me. I read the Bible and I come complacent. I often fail to apply what I have read to my life. Placing myself in scripture changes things for me and putting myself in situations that are found in the Bible can have an effect on my life if I allow it to. Change my heart O God and create in me a clean spirit. Help me to read and study the scriptures as if you were talking to just me. Thank you for your words. As I read about the Holy Week help me to see where I am in the story. I am so thankful for your love, grace and mercy. Amen.