“Is what I read in the Bible really true?” This question was posed to me by a high school student who was a very new reader of the Bible and again by my seat neighbor on a recent flight.
While I’m not a Bible scholar in the academic sense, I have been a regular student of the Scriptures for most of my life. I’ve experienced inspiration, physical healing, and character transformation from insights I’ve gleaned while reading the Bible, which in turn has given me confidence in the wisdom of its pages. The truth of Scripture is proved in part whenever you feel the love and the strength behind the words on the page and experience that inspiration making a difference in your life. That’s the inspired, living Word of God speaking directly to us in the present day rather than simply as words written thousands of years ago. My new friends related to this explanation.
In all the years I’ve read and pondered the stories and wisdom in the Bible, I’ve seen how it is truly “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105, King James Version). A book that has shed further light on the meaning of the Bible and helped me understand the practical relevance of God in my life is “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” written by the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy. “The Scriptures are very sacred,” she wrote. “Our aim must be to have them understood spiritually, for only by this understanding can truth be gained” (p. 547).
I had to deepen my spiritual understanding of the Scriptures when I was elected to be a lay reader of the Bible for three years at the Church of Christ, Scientist, I attend. That dedicated time helped me see more clearly how comprehending the Word is a living conversation we each have with God, in which we hear it communicating timeless truths, such as the truth of our innate innocence, purity, and goodness as God’s children, made in His image. Passages from the Psalmist came alive, such as this one: “God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalms 66:19, New King James Version).
That passage is illustrated in so many of the stories of Bible figures, such as Joseph in the Old Testament, who, despite all the odds and seeming misfortune that he encountered, remained close to God and prospered in his life.
Joseph’s example is one of grace, which has been particularly meaningful to me. Despite being sold into slavery by his brothers, when he finally reunites with his family years later, he reassures them, “Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5, KJV). His life was literally prayer in action. How he lived sprang from his reliance on God’s guidance rather than on human events or relationships.
That example of Joseph so graciously forgiving his brothers helped me when I was faced with the prospect of seeing a person after many years whose actions had caused me much hurt. I wrestled with questions about this person’s moral and spiritual integrity. The answer came to me like a father’s voice, reassuring me that the provider, or source, of good in my life is never dependent on whether a particular person is humanly perfect or imperfect. God always was and always would be the source of all true supply, and that includes right relationships, guidance, and love – just as Joseph found.
This answer helped me stop thinking of what this person would or would not bring into my life and turned me instead to trust in the permanent good I knew God is always bringing to us all. I was able to meet this individual free of apprehension, and I felt a settled peace that is best described in one of my favorite Bible verses: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV).
This Sunday, we can all post a favorite Bible verse on social media under the hashtag #BibleCelebration for International Day of the Bible, or “IDOB.” That’s a challenging thing to do, because there are so many favorites! But another one of mine is this: “The word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12, Christian Standard Bible).
Let’s post our hashtagged Bible verses this weekend, and more importantly, let’s all show just how alive, practical, and healing the Word of God is!