A few months ago I wrote that I would read Eugene Peterson during Lent. Unfortunately, my reading got pushed out for a while out due to the work we had to do for commissioning (as Provisional Elders) and I’ve just recently gotten back to reading Peterson’s Eat This Book.
Usually, I read a book as quickly as I can so that I can get through as many books as possible (it’s hard to keep up with all the books I want to read!). But with this book, I’m reading a lot slower (Peterson’s stuff is usually pretty heavy/intense). So far, I’m going through each chapter three times, the first time without a highlighter, the second time with a highlighter, and the third time simply to review the statements I’ve highlighted.
Here are a few of the things I highlighted in the first three chapters …
The Christian Scriptures are the primary text for Christian spirituality … We grow in accordance with the revealed Word implanted in us by the Spirit (15).
What I want to call attention to is that the Bible is livable; it is the text for living our lives. It reveals a God-created, God-ordered, God-blessed world in which we find ourselves at home and whole (18).
These statements are pretty straightforward. If we, as Christ-followers, are going to grow, we’ve must be people of the Book.
Peterson describes eating the book as internalizing the Scriptures.
Eating a book takes it all in, assimilating it into the tissues of our lives. Readers become what they read. If Holy Scripture is to be something other than mere gossip about God, it must be internalized (20).
In our reading of this book we come to realize that what we need is not primarily informational, telling us things about God, but formational, shaping us into our true being (23-24).
Ultimately, everything is formational. Christ-followers, in order to grow more Christ-like, must ensure that they are being formed by God’s Word.
I also like how Peterson describes Bible reading as participatory.
Christian reading is participatory reading, receiving the words in such a way that they become interior to our lives, the rhythms, and images becoming practices of prayer, acts of obedience, ways of love (28).
Toward the end of chapter 3, Peterson offers quite a challenging statement for Christ-followers, and Christ-following leaders, in particular …
God and his ways are not what most of us think. Most of what we are told about God and his ways by our friends on the street, or read about him in the papers, or view on television, or think up on our own, is simply wrong. Maybe not dead wrong, but wrong enough to mess up the way we live (34-35).
To guard against misleading others, we must “eat the book” (i.e., God’s Word) — internalize it so that it becomes part of who we are. Internalizing God’s Word is especially important for leaders and communicators who have the potential to influence many people.
I look forward to continuing through the book. I’ll write another post or two as I make my way through it.