Studying the Bible properly is very important. It's just far too easy to take passages and apply meanings on to them which they were never intended to have. Spurgeon in his Lectures to students said:
"How dreadfully the word of God has been mauled and mangled by a certain band of preachers who have laid texts on the rack to make them reveal what they never would have otherwise spoken."
The trap is often because our brain is already loaded with what we hold as 'Christian Truths' so that when we try to make sense of a passage we simply try to squeeze it into being about one of those truths. The problem being, is that the 'Christian Truths' in our head have been formed from all sorts of sources. Some of it from the bible, but it's also mixed up with everything else that forms our opinions (Culture, Education, Ethnicity, Gender, etc.)
And if we're honest, we probably all do this a lot. In an honest and worthy attempt to understand scripture, we try to simplify the 'understanding' process by making the bible fit with what we already believe, rather than letting it challenge those beliefs.
The other side-effect of this, is that Christians can often be very good at finding 'Jesus' everywhere. What we do with our bibles, we do with our books, films, songs and poems. The truths that we hold inside, find resonances everywhere, and we even use them to affirm our beliefs. So, for example, just about every other superhero in a movie at some point has given up his own life, to save another (or the world). And usually he gets his life back somehow too. These stories have often served as illustrations in sermons or just in our heads to promote the logic of Christ saving us through sacrifice. And so Little by little Jesus is seen as a hero - just like a superhero in a movie, only true. We might even find ourselves reading that back into scripture. We end up shaping our own view of Jesus around a more popular concept of heroism, rather than the more challenging description in the Gospels. I'm not sure the Jesus in the Gospels would ever meet the criteria of hero. Not the 'Hero' model found in comics and movies anyway. Jesus is most certainly not my superhero.
It all comes back to whether we let the Bible shape us, or whether we go the easy route and shape the Bible to fit what we already think.
To be continued...
(The image from the header comes from OutreachMedia)