Community of Readers: Values

Welcome to Community of Readers.

I've been reading the Bible since I was a young boy. I've taught people from it, digested it, sung it. I've studied it, even to postgraduate level. I've revered it, questioned it, laughed with it, been moved by it. But most of all - what has meant most to my journey of faith - I've shared it.

I would like to share it with you.

We each read with different eyes. And this is what makes sharing the Bible so powerful. Nobody in the world reads like you, because nobody in the world has your life; your experience or your knowledge, your sensitivity or your personality. And I need you, and all you bring to your reading. Otherwise my reading will just hold up to me a mirror - good for self-evaluation, but ultimately useless as a window on the future.

But reading together in a community demands something of us, something more than just a willingness to share. We are tucking in to arguably the most powerful book in all of human history And it has proved itself a tool of malice as much as peace, of division as much as reconciliation. So to be a reader asks us a value question: what kind of reader will we be?

'However good my Bible reading, however accurate my historical knowledge, however sensitive my grasp of ancient languages, if I have not love I am just a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of linguistics and can fathom all cultural contexts and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can make each text real, but have not love, I am nothing. If I sell all I possess to undertake a PhD in Biblical studies and surrender my body to the flames of peer-critique, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are commentaries, they will cease; where there are languages, they will fall into disuse; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we read in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me. Now we read but poor interpretations as in a mirror; then we shall read face to face. Now I read in part; then I shall read fully, even as I am fully read.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.' (1 Cor 13:1-13)

I don't believe in Bible reading for its own sake. But I believe in the Bible - and I believe in it so determinedly - because it has the power to shape the course of the future on behalf of those who have no power. This subversive power only exists when readers read together in love.

This is your invite...

Join in.

Matt Valler
Dec 08