In Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson warns us against the mistake of thinking that the “biblical world as smaller than the secular world.” This happens often:
Tell-tale phrases give us away. We talk of “making the Bible relevant to the world,” as if the world is the fundamental reality and the Bible something that is going to fix it. We talk of “fitting the Bible into our lives” or “making room in our day for the Bible,” as if the Bible is something we can add on or squeeze into our already full lives… As we personally participate in the Scripture-revealed world of the emphatically personal God, we not only have to be willing to accept the strangeness of this world – that it doesn’t fit our preconceptions or tastes – but also the staggering largeness of it. We find ourselves in a truly expanding universe that exceeds anything we learned in our geography or astronomy books. Our imaginations have to be revamped to take in this large, immense world of God’s revelation in contrast to the small, cramped world of human “figuring out.”
Peterson compares us to warehouse dwellers, who spend our whole lives in a warehouse and don’t even know that a world exists outside. When we open the Bible, we enter the unfamiliar world of God. “Life in the warehouse never prepared us for anything like this.” We:
…open this book and find that page after page it takes us off guard, surprises us, and draws us into his reality, pulls us into participation with God on his terms… …when we open the Bible – we enter the totally unfamiliar world of God, a world of creation and salvation stretching endlessly above and beyond us.
We do not try to fit Scripture into our experience, because this would be like “trying to put the ocean into a thimble.” Nor do we “read the Bible in order to reduce our lives to what is convenient to us or manageable by us.” Instead, we “want to get in on the great invisibles of the Trinity, the soaring adorations of the angels, the quirky cragginess of the prophets, and…Jesus.” I need to remind myself of this quite regularly. We’ve been chatting quite a bit about God’s story being much fuller and richer than we normally think. Every time we think we have it down to a few simple points, it’s probably time to step out of the warehouse again and “enter the totally unfamiliar world of God, a world of creation and salvation stretching endlessly above and beyond us.”