When I was a young girl, my art teacher bemoaned the fact that if she said the sky was blue, I coloured it yellow, orange, red and purple. Blue water was blue, green, white and black. Grass was green, yellow and brown and the leaves on the trees and flowers in the fields were whatever colours appealed on that day.
With all due credit to my teacher, she had something in mind that she wanted me to accomplish. She had a perspective and in order for me to be where she was, I had to interpret her perspective in the same way she did.
Last Saturday morning, my mother, two of my daughters and my daughter-in-love and I all sat down to do an online paint lesson together. The painting teacher provided a list of the colours that she used and frequently panned the camera to her palette so that we could see how she was mixing and blending. She told us which brushes she used and step by step, walked us through the painting. It took us about four hours to do a two hour lesson, but at the unveiling, we all had a beach scene – but wait – none of the scenes, not one, looked like another and none of them looked like the painting done by the instructor. What happened?
All of us had sky and clouds and water and sand. Some of us had painted the girl walking down the beach. One of us painted flowers. Two of us didn’t complete the painting in one sitting. Some scenes were gentle and calm and some looked more blustery. The shadows, highlights and details were all unique.
What was the goal? To paint a beach scene. Did we all do that? Yes. Were all of the scenes the same? No. Why? If we all received the same lesson, we all heard the same words, we all used the same materials, why did we not all achieve the same results?
We all came to the lesson with different levels of experience.
We all saw the picture through the lens of our own feelings/perspective.
We all had different styles/methods of achieving the goal.
So, if I were an art teacher evaluating each painting, how would I decide the quality of each piece?
As Christians, we often look at the Scriptures and come up with varied understandings of what God is saying. We interpret what we read by our own experience and when we put different passages into practice, we discover that our perspective is not necessarily the same as that of those around us. That doesn’t mean that we are outside of God’s will and Word. It just means that He has something unique for each one of us every time we come to Him.
How can we know, then, that God’s Word is true – if everyone reads it differently?
When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit will help us understand God’s Word.
2 Peter 3:16
… as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant (this means uninformed, not rude) and unstable (this means immature not clumsy) twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this book.
If you are looking for someone to help you interpret Scripture, ensure you are seeking to be discipled by someone who has studied God’s Word to learn about God not someone using God’s Word to accomplish their own agenda or to promote their own perspective. Our goal in interpreting Scripture should always be to bring glory to God.
The Word of God is amazing. No matter where you are on your Christian journey, there is wisdom that will apply to your circumstances.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.
For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I have heard the Bible described as a love letter to believers. When you consider a letter from your sweetheart, it includes endearments, memories, hopes and shared dreams. As you grow in your relationship, all of the those things begin to change, to deepen and to refocus. Reading God’s Word is just like that. As our understanding of who God is matures and our knowledge of Scripture increases, every time we read the Bible, we can learn something new and deepen our relationship with God.
As I look at the paintings done by the five of us, I see the hope of a life that continues to grow and evolve as I get to know my LORD. I know that every time I open and read my Bible, I am learning a little bit more about an awesome God who loves me.
Moses said, “Please show me Your glory.”
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.