The Bible is all about human life “with God.” It is about how God has made this “with-God” life possible and will bring it to pass. In fact, the name Immanuel, meaning in Hebrew “God is with us,” is the title given to the one and only redeemer, because it refers to God’s everlasting intent for human life – namely, that we should be in every aspect a dwelling place of God. Indeed, the unity of the Bible is discovered in the development of life “with God” as a reality on earth, centered in the person of Jesus…
– Introduction to The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible
In my personal spiritual development, I’ve begun to think more about Scripture. I’ve noticed lately that more often than not my times of personal reading and studying of Scripture have been dry. Many times I’ll read a passage of Scripture, finish, and then realize that I have no idea what I just read. Other times when I am actually making an effort to be fully present to the text, I more often find the curiosities of my brain being stimulated, rather than the desires of my heart.
I find this excerpt from the Intro to the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible to be really helpful, particularly because the emphasis on being “with God” challenges me to heighten my expectations when approaching Scripture. In my life, there are numerous people I would call “faith role-models” – people whom I look at and think to myself, “God is with that person.” I admire and trust these people. I feel safe following them because I am confident that the path they are on is one toward God.
These people aren’t just friends whom I know personally, although I’m blessed to have many friends whom I count among these role-models. Within the communion of saints, there are men and women, living and dead, whom I’ve never met personally, and some who have lived long before I, who have had great influence on my faith. Brother Lawrence, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Augustine, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are some of the first to come to mind. Again, the theme among all these individuals is a particular “with-God-ness.”
Regardless of how well I know the individually personally, whether friend or stranger, I’m excited to follow these people. I look forward to learning from them, as they challenge me to a greater faithfulness. It’s this same eagerness, likely even a greater eagerness, that I think I need to cultivate in approaching Scripture. Scripture is a book about and written by “with-God” people. In fact, the writers of Scripture are so closely “with-God” that anyone seeking to be closer to God will need to follow them. And, of course, at the heart of Scripture is Christ Himself, God-with-us.
A fruitful reading of Scripture, then, begins with one’s desire for being with God, and seeking to meet that desire in the communion of the saints. The desire to be with God is met in following the writers of Scripture, the prophets and the apostles, as they follow Christ.