Scripture and life experience

I just saw someone writing this on facebook today, which i want to quote here :

'When bringing our experience to bear on our theology, remember that there are always two parts to our 'experiences': what actually happened and how we interpret what happened. The former is objective; the latter is not. That is why it is always wiser to allow the Scripture (assuming a proper use of it) to make sense of our experience, and not vice versa.'

This is indeed sound advice. Let's break it down a little. We often impose our own emotions and feelings to the events that happen around us and to what we can see. Many Christians, often than not and it is not their fault, cannot see beyond what they experience in this physicial realm, for a very simple reason: we are physically in the world and our senses are trained to attune to the happenings of the physical world. Hence, our perception of the reality around us can very much be influenced and interpreted by our senses and emotons. But because we cannot see beyond the physical, we often forgot that there is an unseen world around us. Paul would put it this way in the Scripture:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:18

The book of Revelation shows us that beyond the recorded history of this world, there is always an underlying battle in the unseen spiritual realm.

What does this mean for us? It means that we often need a tool to help us gain access into insights on the unseen spiritual realm - namely the Scripture. This is so that we can make sense and gain spiritual perspective into the experiences that we are made to go through. Yet, I do observe that this is often not the case for Christians. We often bring our emotions and feelings into the whole process, and thus mixed up the order. Hence we allow our emotions to interpret our experiences, and use our experiences to interpret the bible. That is why sometimes, we find that the Scripture does not make sense, or does not offer us what we want to hear and see.

This is another problem by itself - that we want the Scripture to give us what we want and thus choose to reject what the Scripture says if it contradicts how we interpreted our own experiences. We thus become consumer of the Scripture. This is very much an observable trend in Christianity today. Sometimes, talking to the people in my own church, I can hear people saying things like, 'I dun feel like I am receiving much in this LG', 'I think I am very distracted by the praise and worship', 'I dun like the sermon', 'The sermon is very interesting' etc. It's becoming more and more rare for people to ask, 'what can I do for the church', 'how should I respond to the sermon', 'what could God possibly be challenging me to do during the time of prophecy' etc. People may respond to challenges and altar calls, but as time goes by, I think I am becoming the cynical old man who starts to wonder how many of these people will follow thru with their commitment.

In any case, coming back to the topic, the Scripture does offer us the lense to objectively interpret the reality around us. But before that, we often forget that we need to be able to use the Scripture correctly. Although not related to the part on experience, looking back at the past teachings taught by the church, it has been a frustrating episode. While the theology sounded sound, some made mockery of the Scripture by oversimplifying the Scripture without proper contextualisation. This led to people misappropriating verses for the wrong occasions. This is not to say that one has to be theologically sophisticated in order to be able to use the Scripture to make sense of their experience. But this means that the disciple has to be more conscientious in ensuring that he can properly understand the Scripture. While this does not necessarily mean that it can only come by prayer and fasting, it does constitute as part of a disciple's growth towards maturity.

So, as the Scripture says, 'For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.' Do we really come to the Scripture and allow the Scripture to speak for itself and speak into our lives at the end of the day?


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