Transformed by the Word
Updated: May 25, 2021
Written by Emilia Sotolongo
We live in the pinnacle, an instant-gratification culture. Admittedly, I am the queen of this. I routinely choose to lose money on Venmo just to get an automatic transfer and find myself sighing loudly when Amazon prime delivery only offers 2-day delivery instead of next day delivery. While these examples seem harmless and comical, I only recently realized how deeply seeded these patterns were and how they had seeped into the way I viewed and studied the Bible, as well.
Over the years, I had developed a habit of approaching the Bible as though it existed as a self-help book, in which I was the main character. Now, I never would have outright admitted I thought the Bible was a book about myself, but the way I approached and studied Scripture screamed the notion of self-centeredness. I treated the Bible as though it existed to encourage me, give me directions, and to get me through my day. Now while the Bible does offer encouragement and direction, the Bible is not primarily about us…it is primarily about God. Yet, once I began to not just realize this truth but really seek to understand it, it completely changed the way I approached the word of God.
As someone who is naturally curious and loves to study and read, I never saw how I could use my natural gifts and desires in studying Scripture, until coming upon Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word. This book was completely transformative in how I began to actually study and not just read Scripture. I am so lucky to have been under the solid expository teachers at Summit Church, Integrity Church, and Waypoint Church, but unfortunately, I used to believe that their teaching and a 5-minute devotional about my feelings was sufficient in terms of reading Scripture. Yet when I actually dug into Scripture, I realized Jesus never tells us to love God with all of the minds of our pastors. Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Yet while I sometimes wish I had the knowledge of one of my pastors, I know Jesus is calling me to love God with all of my mind, not all of their minds.
I began doing some independent, inductive-type Bible studies a few months ago, and they have completely transformed my relationship with Scripture and with God. While frustrating, labor-intensive, and often not filling my “emotional needs for the morning” bucket, my view of the entire point of studying Scripture began to shift. Jen Wilkin beautifully describes this shift in mentality from a debit-card approach to a savings account approach. The more I study books in their context, the richer and more beautiful the words of Scripture begin to appear to me. While previously I would look up isolated verses about “trusting God” to get me through the day, I am instead learning more about a beautiful God who always provides for His people within the context of the book of Exodus. Instead of clinging to verses, I have found myself clinging to the promises of God based on evidence of His providence and love with a bigger understanding of who God is. The more I study the word of God, the more in awe I am of this rich literary masterpiece and the different literary themes, devices, and parallels the Holy Spirit used to inspire the authors of this book.
As we move into a post-Christian world, I believe it is more imperative than ever that we really study and understand our sacred text, a text we claim to believe is inerrant and completely authoritative over our lives. I say this not out of pride or superiority but out of my own personal conviction.
Over the past few weeks, I have been fortunate enough to meet up with a wonderful group of Waypoint women on Wednesday mornings to study 1 Thessalonians. These beautiful souls are committed to getting up at 6:30 a.m., before work or watching kids, to dig into the word together. It has been incredibly uplifting and encouraging to be a part of such a wonderful group of women so committed to worshiping Christ by studying His word in this way. Very few things have impacted my walk with Christ as much as setting aside time to actually study the word of God in a systematic way. I promise you, it is worth it.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin
How to Teach the Bible Podcast, Nancy Guthrie
Precept Upon Precept International Inductive Bible Studies
If you are interested in learning more about women's Bible studies starting next week, contact Erika at Erika@waypointrdu.com