How do you approach a cadaver?
Cadavers are that most useful, frightening, intriguing, disgusting, and beneficial tool of medical students everywhere. Doctors and scientists have been using cadavers for thousands of years to gain a better understanding of the human body and the way it functions.
Doubtless, the use of cadavers has saved thousands (millions?) of lives over the years and has led to magnificent scientific, medical, and pharmaceutical advances.
I don't profess to have ever handled a cadaver (I did have one disturbing experience in a funeral home after hours), and I certainly am no expert when it comes to anything scientific. However, let me "simplify" for the sake of brevity the usage of a typical cadaver.
The point of using a cadaver is to be able to pick it apart. If you are exploring a cadaver you will spend enormous amounts of time surveying the body, examining the parts, isolating certain organs, comparing and contrasting different elements, cutting things open, placing some parts under a microscope, analyzing connectedness of different pieces, etc...
But you wouldn't do that to a body that was alive. You can do that, precisely because the cadaver is dead.
How do you approach the Bible?
Do you seek to pick it apart? Do you spend enormous amounts of time surveying the body, examining the parts, isolating certain verses, comparing and contrasting different authors, cutting words open, placing some paragraphs under a microscope, analyzing connectedness of different pieces, etc...?
I wonder if the way we approach the Bible keeps the Bible from really changing our lives? If the Bible is just a cadaver to be picked apart to further our knowledge, then the paragraph above describes exactly how we should approach it.
But, what if it is a living, active thing? What if the whole point of the Bible is not to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives?
Wouldn't that demand a different kind of approach?
What if instead of “reading the Bible”, we allowed the Bible to “read us?” What if we took to heart Peter’s statement that the Word of God is “living”.
Most books are nothing more than slices of dead trees bound up in a dead cow. What makes the Bible different is that the Words on the pages inside the leather binder are actually the Words of God spoken and written to deeply impact our lives.
In a sentence, the subject is the person, thing, or idea that is performing the action. The sentence is about the subject. The verb is the action; it is what the the subject is doing. The verb is the plot of the sentence. The object of a sentence is the person, thing, idea, etc. that is being acted upon. The object is pretty much helpless, subject to the whim of the actions of the subject.
When we talk about objectifying something or someone, we are talking about "behavior in which one person treats another person as an object and not as a fellow human being with feelings and consciousness of his or her own, in other words as, as without agency."
Typically, objectification of someone is a bad thing. To deem powerless the image of God is to drastically mistreat God's creation. You can probably think of a lot of different ways, humans assert power over others by objectifing one another:
- Bosses objectify their employees to justify huge bonuses while cutting jobs.
- Generals objectify privates.
- Pornography objectifies women... and men.
- Politicians objectify voters.
Objectifying someone is a way to remove the power of that person and impose your will upon them. Here's a silly example:
Liam punched the squirrel.
Who has the power in this sentence? Who is powerless? Who is in control? Who is being affected?
Now consider the object and the subject in each of these sentences:
- I read the Bible.
- I study the Bible.
- I teach the Bible.
- We learn the Bible.
- We listen to the Bible.
- He preached the Bible.
Nothing is inherently wrong with any of these statements, but we need to be careful that we don’t assert power and control over the Bible by making ourselves the subject
. What if we were to let the Bible assert power and control over us? What if we thought of the Bible as the subject, and we were the object being acted upon?
- The Bible reads me.
- The Bible studies me.
- The Bible teaches me.
This is a subtle difference, but an important distinction. If I only study the Bible, the outcome is new knowledge. If the Bible studies me, the outcome is lifechange.
The Bible is full of great stories, beautiful poetry, wise instructions, and much more. But these are not like any other stories or poems or rules. They are not written to simply be read or studied or memorized or recited. Simply pursuing in-depth knowledge of the Bible is missing the point.
A few days ago, I referenced James’ words, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, do what it says.” Those who accumulate vast knowledge about the Word of God but never act on it have deceived themselves.
It is far better to know one verse and allow it to remodel your life than to memorize whole chapters and never change.
When you approach the Bible, do you just read it for information? Learn how to let the Bible read you. Let it expose the parts of you that need to change. Allow it to be alive in your life, making you more like Jesus every day!