How do you read the Bible? I think we can all agree that we read the scriptures non-objectively… In other words something plays a part in how we interpret the texts whether it be culture, up-bringing, personal experiences, gender, race, agendas, and of course religious backgrounds. We all have different interpretations of what the text is saying.
For instance some of you may interpret certain passages to teach only one interpretation to which many others would disagree with that particular interpretation.
We all look through certain lenses, so to speak, when we read and interpret the Bible.
So is there a specific lens that we should be looking through whether we are reading the teachings of Jesus, the letters from Paul, the gospel accounts, or the prophetic and poetic writing found in the Hebrew texts?
I believe so.
Love was central to the teachings of Jesus and the message of the Bible. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he responded that Loving God and loving your neighbor were both the greatest and they are one in the same. Paul says that you can follow the law, die a martyr of the faith, and speak eloquently with all knowledge, but if you do not have love it is all pointless and meaningless.
I think this speaks volumes to a religious culture such as ours that still seems to be caught up in following a Law which in turn leads us to exclude others. I suggest that if our understanding of the Bible causes us to exclude and condemn then we are not reading the gospel of Jesus because its simply not good news.
Of course we will not all come to the same conclusion and we will continue to have different interpretations which is good, but it is important that we read and interpret the text graciously through Love and if the outcome is not inclusive, Merciful, and forgiving, then it may be time to abandon our interpretation all together and find a better one.