How does the Holy Spirit transform us through our encountering the Bible? This is an extended answer to the comment in the last post that we receive the “benefits” of reading the Bible indirectly. By this, I mean that reading the Bible points us away from ourselves to the story of God’s purposes and the people God intends to use to implement those purposes, his missional community. The Spirit calls the reader to participate ever more fully in the life of this community.
Bible Reading------------God’s purpose and people ------------Participation in commmunity
It is through sharing life in such a community that we discover our gifts, our style of service, our individuality (which can never be discovered outside community), and build a relational network that the Spirit uses too make us into a tranformissional people. This process is at one and the same time irreducibly personal and corporate, or better, the growth of the person-in-community.
To seek individual growth on one’s own and by one’s self is to inevitably reduce the gospel to a personal, therapeutic protocol for self-improvement, the church to “a voluntary association of like-minded individuals,” and the world to a setting for my own self-realization. In short, it becomes an exercise in spiritual narcissism, well-meant, perhaps, but none the less toxic for it.
Our God is a missional God, his book tells the story of this missional God, the church is his missional people, our salvation is into his missional movement, our sanctification is into a transformissional people, and our hope lies in the fulfillment of God’s missional dream for all his creatures and creation. Bible reading and study, then, must serve God’s missional aims for us as well!