I’ve mentioned before how much help I’ve found in the writings of Eugene Peterson. I came across this good word about how we might relate to God through the scriptures:
“Paul’s relation to the Scriptures was not as a student finding out what was there but as a disciple who is living the text. Paul, gifted with a fine intellect, had a well-trained mind and had acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the Scriptures. He spent the first part of his life as a Pharisee, using the Scriptures zealously but wrongly; he spent the second part of his life as a Christian, living these same Scriptures just as zealously but very differently. The difference between his life as Pharisee and as Christian was not in his intellectual ability nor in his knowledge of Scripture but in his relation to the Scriptures: as a Pharisee he used the Scriptures; as a Christian he submitted to them.” (Dawn, Marva & Eugene Peterson. The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000, p. 64-65.)
The difference between using and submitting is a difference of authority. I use something I have authority over. I submit to something that exercises authority over me. So when I talk about using the scriptures, or using the power of the Holy Spirit in some way, I am making a basic mistake of authority. I don’t use the scriptures or the Spirit as a resource over which I have power to make something happen that I’ve thought up. I submit to the counsel of the scriptures to follow the way of God in my life. This will lead me to certain actions that are in harmony with the direction God is giving me.
Reflection: As you think about your own way of engaging the scriptures, in what ways have you found yourself using them as opposed to submitting to and living them?