I am always looking for creative ways to engage in the truth of Scripture. God has given his Word to us for nourishment for living in his kingdom. We do not use the Scriptures as much as we eat them. They feed our hearts with the life of God in order to live for God as human beings who are fully alive. The challenge with regularly eating God’s book is an over-familiarity with the Scripture. I love spaghetti. We eat a lot of spaghetti in my home, for obvious reasons: it is quick, easy, and everyone in the house eats it without (much) complaint. I love spaghetti, but I don’t want to eat it every day. I need a little bit of variety. Most followers of Christ like sitting down, opening up the Scriptures and reading from a leather-bound copy of the Bible, but if we are honest, it can become such a routine that we become bored. I know I do.
A friend of mine has just launched a new user-driven website designed to give us a creative way of entering into the Scripture— www.whitepaperbible.org.
Here is how it works: Users register and log in and create a “page” that is added to the White Paper Bible (WPB). A page is a list of verses around a certain theme. Users give each page a title, description, and the list of verses. All verses are from the ESV. When creating a page you only need to list the Scripture verse reference. Once the page is created, the site populates the entire verse with each reference.
You do not have to be a registered user to use the site. You can search by topic or keyword and go to a page where you can quickly find the verse that speak to the specific subject you are interested in. This is an incredible quick way to begin to meditate on the verse you need. I am looking forward to the iPhone app, which is under development. (I will download it to my iPod touch. I still do not have a iPhone, because they have not opened it up to the Verizon network. I am patiently waiting for Verzion to pick up the iPhone, but I digress…)
WPB is a great entry point into the Scripture, a great way to enter into the text and allow it to enter into your heart, put I would offer a word of caution. There is a subtle danger in collecting together a list of Scriptures. The danger is two-fold.
First, it is easy to misinterpret a single verse once you remove it from its context. It is possible to pull a verse of Scriptures together and make the Bible say just about anything you want. So as you are compiling a list of verses for a new page, make sure you have read each verse in context so that you are linking together verses that are speaking about the same concept. Make sure you understand the meaning of a single verse in the context of the verses around it.
Second, when you compile a certain list of verses on a subject you are deciding NOT to list other verses. There are editorial reasons why we do that, but those editorial reasons can be caused by theological biases. We all have biases, but we should not let those biases keep us from hearing the Scripture speak to speak to us in its fullness. We all have a favorite verses of Scripture. The ones we copy and hang on our refrigerator or we highlight in our Bibles. We need to be careful not to ignore the verses that are not underlined in our Bibles. For example, if you are creating a new page on the love of God, it is easy to list the verses that speak of God’s love for us. The temptation is to ignore the verses that define God’s love as following his commands, you know, the verses that demand something from us.
These are not arguments for why we shouldn’t compile together verses, but a friendly reminder that as we use the WPB to increase or meditation on God’s word that we allow Scripture to speak for itself. We should pursue to know God through the Scripture as he has revealed himself to be by reading Scripture verses in his context.
Great web tools like http://www.whitepaperbible.org are great ways to enter into the Scripture, God’s story and so we should use them as just that, entry points into God’s great big, over-arching story, of which we play minor characters. As soon as we begin to view the Scripture as God’s catalogue of promises we miss the point. The Scripture is not a shoppers catalogue as much as it is a pilgrim’s daily bread.