When I asked a group of adults to do this, the adults balked. “Is this a trick question? You can’t take anything to heaven,” replied one man. “I can’t draw,” sidestepped a mom.
But the kids did not hesitate!
One boy exhibited his crayon work, saying, “I can take mommy and daddy and brother and my friend TJ.”
A girl explained, “These hearts mean I can take love to heaven.”
The Surge offers a new program for life groups. It draws me in! But I admit that at first I had, ahem, adult hesitancy.
Here’s how it goes. Among other activities, each group member silently reads an assigned Bible passage and asks simply, “What does this make me appreciate about God?” Then the members share.
Now, asking, “What does this tell me about God?” has been part of my reflections on the Bible and life, pretty much forever. However, this was just one of several questions I asked myself. In a thirty minute session, this particular question has tended to get, oh, about ten seconds of my attention.
But big advantages exist in sticking to this simple question, “What does this make me appreciate about God?”
- I should be able to ask this question of any Bible passage. God connects to everything, if only by a strong “not”. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
- Who can swim all the way through the depth and breadth of a question about God? But anyone can wade in. You need the afore-mentioned earnestness of a child.
- I had not realized until Emily L. pointed it out, but discussions at many Bible studies discourage some people. It’s bad enough to feel you can’t understand a passage without knowing ancient Palestinian architecture and declensions of Greek pronouns. (That’s not true, by the way.) Application, if earnest, can be scarier! In fact, if what you should do about a passage is not scary, you probably aren't trying. “What would I have done?” “How should I feel?” “What should I do now?” "Who should I warn?" But instead, suppose I first focus not on me but on God—and especially God’s grace, wisdom, and power. I gain both the desire and the confidence to apply God’s principles.
Still, I worry about approaching the Bible or anything with a limited toolkit. I once received a gift, a popular Bible Commentary titled, What the Bible is All About, by Dr. Henrietta Mears. Dr. Mears asked of every passage this question: “What does this tell us about Christ?” Consider the first five chapter subtitles in What the Bible is All About.
- “Genesis portrays Jesus Christ, our Creator God."
- “Exodus portrays Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb.”
- “Leviticus portrays Jesus Christ, our Sacrifice for Sin.”
- “Numbers portrays Jesus Christ, our Lifted-Up One.”
- “Deuteronomy portrays Jesus Christ, our True Prophet.”
Paul would have liked Dr. Mears. Speaking of Christ: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him.”
There's another neat thing about asking, “What does this tell me about God?” I can ask this not just for Bible verses, but for the verses of my life. My answer must sometimes be, “I don’t know just now what this situation tells me about God." But I’ll be better for pondering the question.