Most of us have the have heard that it is important to do our proofreading with fresh eyes. There are numerous techniques we can employ which will help us accomplish this feat. I’ve found that almost anything that requires me to get my mind out of the autopilot mode and engaged in fresh thought helps me read with fresh eyes.
I do my best to read the Scriptures with fresh eyes, as well. That’s one of the reasons that I’ve stopped making notes in my Bibles. I still have all of my well-marked Bibles within reach. I refer to them often. But, when it comes to doing my reading, I now prefer to use an unmarked Bible. Actually, an unmarked Today’s New International Version, without references is my current favorite. I’m hoping that Santa will bring me a new English Standard Version from which I can do my reading after Christmas.
I’ve also found it helpful to read biographies of biblical characters, as well as historical works related to biblical events. These provide fresh insights into the life and times of the people we read about in the Scriptures.
Something that I recently read has really helped me read Luke’s historical sketch of the events surrounding the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. We pick up the story with Jesus’ pointed inquiry, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Here’s an excerpt from John Pollock’s book, The Apostle: A Life of Paul:
[Saul] could reply now in the words of David’s psalm: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions . . . Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned.”
Paul felt defiled and loathsome. He could have used the words in Augustine’s Confessions: “You set me there before my face that I might see how vile I was, how twisted and unclean and spotted and ulcerous. I saw myself and was horrified.” By the gauge of man’s inhumanity to man—the Roman suppression of the two Jewish Rebellions, or Nero’s massacre of Christians after the Fire of Rome, or Hitler’s “final solution”—Paul’s persecution was trifling. But murder is always absolute to the awakened conscience of the murderer. Nor was it only murder and cruelty. He had blasphemed and insulted and persecuted the Lord, whose response had been to seek him out and show him a love which surpassed anything he had known. The more he bathed himself in this love as the hours flew by in blindness, the more he was broken down by the enormity of what he had done.
He had imagined he served God. He had supposed himself climbing into God’s favor. He had set up his standards of goodness, compared himself with others and seen that he was good. But now, in contrast with Jesus whose Spirit had invaded him, he knew his purity was a counterfeit of the inexpressibly Pure, the good deeds a parody of Goodness. He had been mentally and spiritually hostile to God, though honoring him by mouth; he had been busy in evil though punctilious in religious rites; he had been altogether estranged, fit for nothing but to crawl away as far as he could from the blinding light that was God.
Yet Jesus had grasped hold of him. Paul would afterward cite this among the cast-iron proofs of the Resurrection, however much men might scoff or call him a liar. God, incredibly, had raised the shattered body of Jesus from the grave so that he was alive and had confronted Paul, not to crush and destroy, not to revenge the blood of the persecuted but to rescue the persecutor and overwhelm him with love and forgiveness. Paul know from the bottom of his heart that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Saviour of the World. This was not a conclusion of cold logic, though that must come. It went beyond intellect. He knew, because he knew Jesus. And in knowing Jesus he understood what had happened on the cross.
I don’t know if this helps you, but it sure does help me read Luke’s inspired summary of this event with fresh eyes. Are you reading with fresh eyes?
© Bill Williams
December 1, 2006