There are very few, if any insights from scripture that I have gained in isolation from other people. Most of what I have learned from scripture I have learned in community. This community is first and foremost my immediate and personal community of family and friends. This community is, secondarily, also the community of scholarly saints who have gone on before us and dedicated their lives to understanding the Bible and who have passed their insights on to us. Some of these people are accessible to us today and others have long since past. But they still comprise the community of faith that enhances our understanding of the scriptures.
There is often an incongruity between the way we prepare a message in study and the way we present it. We study in isolation and present in community. It doesn’t have to be this way. The more time we spend in community with others, with the text before us in open conversation, the deeper and richer our insights on the text will be. One of my biggest regrets in ministry has been not going back and adjusting my class notes after having taught a particular class. So many rich and profound insights were shared that could have and should have been taken note of in my notes. And yet I was still enriched in the sharing.
One of the signs of a good reader is the ability to ask good questions. What goes along with this is not just asking good questions of the text but asking good questions of the text together and listening to other people’s questions of the text. When you study through sharing like this the depth of your insight will increase and the richness of your study will rise exponentially. We don’t communicate without community and so we also shouldn’t prepare and study without community. It will just take some adjusting of how we use our time.
Who are some people who have benefited your study over the years? What was it about them that enriched your understanding of scripture?