Bible Study Ideas: Select Passages That Don’t Seem as Relevant

Imagine sitting down and trying to make a list of bible study ideas by asking the question, “What are all the topics and books of the bible that I am least interested in?”

One of the main challenges in studying the bible is to open our hearts to truths that we are hardwired to overlook.  If I make a list of bible study ideas for myself,  I am likely to be drawn toward bible study lessons and topics that address my needs, my hopes, my relationships, and my situation.  Furthermore, I am likely to project my own biases onto the text that I read, especially if I lack understanding of the historical, linguistic, and cultural setting in which a particular book of the bible was written.

For this reason, it is often good to read something in the Bible that you don’t find as interesting as those sections at the top of your list of bible study ideas.  For example, I recently read the little book of Philemon.  This is a letter from Paul to a fellow Christian who “owned” slaves.   Paul tells Philemon that he is sending Philemon’s slave back to him.

It has never been at the top of my list of bible study ideas to examine Paul’s letter to Philemon because I don’t believe in slavery, I’m not a slave, nor to I have slaves.  Furthermore,  Paul is not speaking out (overtly) against slavery.  This makes me very uncomfortable.  But what I discovered was most interesting.  Paul expresses his beliefs about equality among all God’s children and then eloquently undercuts the beliefs and assumptions that supported the institution of slavery.

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