For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. ~ Hebrews 4: 12
Since my earliest days as a follower of Jesus I’ve heard this passage quoted. The same night I came Christ someone put the Bible in my hands and told me God would speak through the book. Yet my experiences with the scripture were decidedly uneven. Sometimes it felt as if the secrets of the universe were unfolding before me. Other times I was clueless as Republican at Burning Man.
Why is this book so special and such a mystery at the same time? What makes the word of God living and active? How can we enter into the life of the word?
It’s not enough to read the scripture with our mind, because we are body, soul, and spirit. Coming to the scripture is more than reading literature. If we want to hear the words of God it requires all of our being. Last weeks’ posts explored the power of imagination in reading the scripture and suggested some avenues to stimulate the imagination. Perhaps these posts helped some to engage the narrative and poetic passages of the Bible, but other people asked me if it’s possible to bring our imagination to bear upon the letters which make up such a large part of the New Testament.
This week’s Meditation invites you to engage the Epistles with your imagination. Consider this exhortation from the Apostle Paul:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. ~ Colossians 3: 12-14
We know Paul is giving us more than good advice. These are life-giving commands. “Do you want to please God?” thunders the PreacherMan, “Then follow the instructions!” Perhaps you’ve even seen someone shake the book, declaring that the Bible is God’s Owner’s Manual. Yet I've never seen an owner's manual capable of changing my life.
I'd like to suggest there are at least five pathways to use your imagination--inspired by the Holy Spirit--as you come to this passage. To help get you started, why not live with this passage in the coming days, and ask these questions:
- If the Word of God is living and active, where is the life in this passage, and how is it acting upon me?
- What doors are open to me through these words--and what doors are closed?
- Can I apply my imagination to cut-and-dried commands such as the ones in this passage?
- How can I engage these words with something other than my understanding?
I invite you to suggest some possible answers in the comments below, and come on back Thursday as I share a few pathways I’ve found as well.