Perhaps the political turmoil of the ancient Middle East informs the political turmoil of our time. Perhaps themes of repentance and forgiveness, death and resurrection, brokenness and healing, plus many more, are worth remembering today. Once again, understanding Scripture is like understanding your grandparents. They had their own big ideas about life and death, meaning and purpose, and it caused them to change or defend residences, jobs, political parties, churches, and even personal relationships. Answer these questions:
- What big, biblical ideas have influenced your own responses to life today?
- How do the big ideas of one Bible source question, correct, or reinforce those from other Bible sources?
- What is the hot topic you feel compelled to explore in Scripture tomorrow?
Most people who read the Bible also pay attention to what other people say about the Bible. These include sermons, commentaries, magazine articles, and even novels. Our response to any of these might be a shake of the head, a mocking laugh, a puzzled look, a vigorous nod, or even a shouted “Right on!” Perhaps your pastor hit the nail on the head during a sermon; perhaps an academic article raised more questions than it answered; or perhaps some newspaper article seemed totally off base. Answer these questions:
- Out of the information you've studied recently, whose opinion about a Bible passage or biblical idea made the most (or least) sense?
- Which authors, or which resources, seemed most helpful in your search for answers?
- What author or resource would you like to explore this year?
We've explored what you've learned from the Bible recently; now it's time to think of why you have learned these things at all. There are different motivations.
Your continuing personal growth is what matters in a small group. The only agenda that really matters is that you are finding what you are seeking. Even if you don’t even know exactly what you are seeking, you should be discovering in Scripture things that deepen your faith, build up your life, and strengthen your spirit. In the end, what is most important is that you are experiencing one or more “Aha!” moments. Answer these questions:
- What experiences with the Bible have changed, shaped, blessed, or encouraged you this year?
- How has the Bible connected with other ways God’s Spirit is working in your life?
- What new experiences with God do you hope to have through studying the Scriptures?
Like the story of your family, the story of God’s people continues to unfold. Your life, and that of your children and grandchildren, will enrich the heritage passed on from your grandparents. In Bible study, you have an opportunity to add to the significance of God’s Word for future generations.
—Tom Bandy is the founder of www.ThrivingChurch.com.