I have discovered a little trick to help me get more out of my Bible study. Too often, I read through passages that deal directly with things in my life without even realizing that they do. It just goes right past me. So, after a little meditation, I find something comparable in my own culture and time that I can “plant” into the passage. Please note: I am not trying to change the Word of God or make my own “private interpretation.” I just want to be able to apply it to me and my problems so I can grow. Here are a couple that have really helped me. The bracketed words are the ones I planted. You might want to read the cited passage before reading these altered ones.
Rom 2:24,25: For the name of God is blasphemed among [people of the world] because of you, even as it is written. For [baptism] indeed profits if you are a doer of the law, but if you are a transgressor of the law, your [baptism] has become [un-baptism].
Since circumcision, the token of the Old Covenant, is compared to baptism in Col 2:11,12, this was a no-brainer. However, if you press it too far, you could wind up with a theological problem or two, so be careful. The point is to make a passage sing out loud to you! Reading the passage this way I can see that I cannot rely on having once been baptized to save me if my life does not live up to the New Covenant it represents.
1 Cor 13:1-3: [If I go to church three times a week in a certain building with a certain sign over the door] but have not love, I am become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. [If I take the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, give more than a tenth, sing loudly, and say amen to every prayer] but have not love, I am nothing. [If I don’t cheat on my spouse, lie, drink, or cuss] but have not love it profits me nothing.
As you can imagine, that one really strikes home. How many times do I define faithfulness as “going to church and not doing the big bad sins?” Faithfulness to the Lord involves striving to become like Him, and that means learning a selfless love, not following a learned routine.
I believe the Word of God is alive and relevant to everyone’s life; God meant it to be that way. Keeping it limited to another time and culture may make me feel better, but it won’t do a thing for my soul. So give yourself some help today with a little wordplay.
For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb 4:12.