The Bible is a strange paradox: it’s simple enough for children to understand, yet so profound that you could study it your whole life–indeed you could devote several lifetimes–and never plumb its depths.
And why shouldn’t it be so? It’s simple and clear enough for children because Our Heavenly Father is addressing His children in terms they can understand–as any good Father would.
And of course it should be unsearchably profound–it’s about the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of a universe so large it makes our knees weak and our heads spin.
The Bible can be enormously frustrating. And if we’re not careful, we may grow resentful. What should we do with this uphill feeling? One way to think about it is to compare it to other things that are similarly frustrating, yet enormously rewarding: exercise, sports, learning a musical instrument, writing, skilled hobbies–all of these seem to share this paradox. We describe this feeling to our friends by saying, “I have a love/hate relationship with…..”
I found a turn of phrase in Martin Luther’s Table Talk that captured my attention, and my musings. He’s commenting on his growth process in knowledge of the Bible and God (“Divinity”). He uses the term “hunted” to describe the pressures that he faced that sent him scurrying into the text. I think that’s so insightful. It’s so easy to be running from the Bible–he’s talking about running to it.
I did not learn my divinity at once, but was constrained by my temptations to search deeper and deeper; for no man, without trials and temptations, can attain a true understanding of Holy Scriptures. St. Paul had a devil that beat him with fists, and with temptations drove him diligently to study the Holy Scripture. I had hanging on my neck the pope, the universities, all the deep-learned, and the devil; these hunted me into the Bible, wherein I sedulously read, and thereby, God be praised, at length attained a true understanding of it. Without such a devil, we are but only speculators of divinity, and according to our vain reasoning, dream that so and so it must be….The Holy Scripture of itself is certain and true; God grant me grace to catch hold of its just use.Martin Luther, The Table Talk of Doctor Martin Luther, 36.