A little more than 10 years ago, while in a graduate class, the professor introduce us to method of understanding and applying lessons from Biblical narratives. I have adopted his method for both personal use and when I am teaching a narrative passage in a Bible class setting. I read or as a class we read the text of the narrative with a set of six questions in mind. These questions form the basis of our discussion and ultimate application. I am sharing them with you praying that they help you understand and apply the text as much as they continue to help and encourage me.
First Reactions to Narratives
- Did I enjoy this story or event? Why or why not? I know what some of you are thinking, “Of course I enjoyed it. This is the Bible. I always enjoy reading the Bible.” You might; but honestly, I don’t. There are some events in the pages of the Bible that I just do not like. I do not enjoy reading them. I do not like the story of the fall of man or the degenerate state of the pre-flood world that would lead God to destroy most of His creation. So be honest as you read these events.
- How do the events of this chapter (section) remind me of life today? With this question you begin to take the text from a narrative to an application. You begin to internalize the events and see how they might be relevant to you.
- How would I react if I were certain characters in these events? Imagine yourself as the main character(s) of the story or as one of the children of Israel who witnesses these events firsthand. Would you respond similarly or dissimilarly? What would you say or do? The people in these events are real people with real emotions and with real life situations. Walk in their sandals and learn from them.
- What morals or lessons can I learn from these events? Make a list of what you learn or can learn and put those lessons into practice in your life.
- How is this story disconcerting to me? This may be why you do not like the events. Sometimes a text or event in the text may hit too close to home. Such a text will bother me because the mirror of God’s Word shows me a reflection of my own weaknesses and short-comings.
- How will I change because of these events and the lessons I learn from the text? Take steps to change as you learn from the text. This is THE practical, relevant, transforming process of Bible study. Often the text demands that I change.
I pray you have a wonderful day with the Lord.