Spark More Powerful than Church by Beth Demme

A Spark More Powerful than the Church

Beth Demme Blog 4 Comments

I’ve already admitted to you that I nearly let feelings of intimidation, rebellion, embarrassment and fear keep me from discovering the beauty of the Bible. (Click here to read that post.) Ultimately, a spark of curiosity fanned into a flame that turned those feelings into a pile of ash.

I’ve spent most of my life attending and participating in church. So, it might surprise you that this spark did not come from a church experience.

I’ve been in a book club with the same group of women since 2005-ish. We read one book a month, twelve books a year. We meet for dinner at a restaurant and talk about our lives and, usually, the book we’ve all been reading.

We take turns choosing the book and the restaurant. It’s a no-pressure kind of group. I think this is one of the reasons we’ve been together for so long. There are no attendance or commitment requirements, but we don’t need them because it’s the kind of group you actually want to see every month. I haven’t been able to make it lately because of my travel schedule and I really, really miss them.

We talk about faith and religion occasionally, but the views represented range from “there is no God” to “maybe there is a God” to “Jesus is my BFF.” Not having agreement on God and His role in our lives doesn’t stop us from enjoying life together. My no-name book club is the perfect metaphor for what Bible study should be. There aren’t any attendance or commitment requirements; let’s dive in because we want to. Let’s accept the invitation and see where it leads us.

Two specific books we read in my no-name book club changed my view of Bible study and neither of them was about the Bible.

Book number 51 was The Red Tent by Anita Diamante. Book number 64 was Lamb by Christopher Moore.

Both books are works of fiction about Biblical characters.

The Red Tent is about a minor character in the Old Testament, but it explores her life in a way that brought all of Genesis alive for me. I had never heard of Dinah (pronounced Dee-nuh). Even though I grew up in Sunday School, I didn’t know the story of Jacob and the 12 Tribes. Maybe it sounds foolish to you, but I never understood Israel was a person and a place. Reading about the foundational Israelites from Dinah’s perspective made me curious about the whole Old Testament.

Lamb is best summed up by its subtitle: “The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.” It’s a funny and fictional account of pivotal events in the actual Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), but Christopher Moore uses his imagination to fill in the years of Jesus’ life we know nothing about. As I laughed my way through Lamb, I wondered what the Bible actually said about the life of Jesus.

Both of these books brought the Bible alive for me in a new way. Each introduced me to Biblical characters as real people with complete lives. Even better, each one made me curious about the Bible.

Curiosity transformed Bible reading from a boring item on my should-do list into something I actually wanted to do.

That spark of curiosity was more powerful than the multiple directives I heard from Christian culture about the importance of Bible reading. Spark-image

This shouldn’t have been a revelation to me. Now that I know the Bible better, I can see that’s just how God works, inviting us into relationship rather than directing or demanding connection.

Maybe you’ve been told you must read the Bible. Please know, that isn’t what I’m saying. I’m saying you can. Yes, the Bible is really long with lots of characters and foreign places, but you can manage it and it can be a meaningful experience.

Is reading the Bible on your “should-do” list or your “love to do” list? Have you been through seasons when Bible reading felt pointless?  Are you curious to go deeper? Tell me about it in an e-mail or on Facebook or Twitter

Comments 4

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