When we enter the Bible’s world and allow our soul to soak in its stories and rhythms. When we do this day-by-day and year-after-year. When we do so prayerfully and meditatively, as we meet life’s blessings and challenges. When we do this to encounter the LORD, bask in his presence, and gain his perspective, well then, over time, this process feeds us, changes us towards Goodness, and fills us with new creation life. And, we “grow up”! This is conversion by submersion.
Scripture does not foremost present us historical and scientific information, though both are in the Bible, nor even religious doctrine or rules to follow. It’s better than that: the Word nourishes us and gives us a godly viewpoint for our journey through life! From Scripture God can speak to us and breathe freshness into our soul. Augustine said as much,
In the Holy Scriptures there are profound mysteries which are hidden so that no one may approach them disrespectfully. But we must search for them and allow them to exercise our minds, knowing that when they are opened they will nourish us. (Exp. of Psa 140,1)
Whatever truth may be dug out from any page of the Divine Scriptures, it tends toward one end only, and that end is charity.… You need look for nothing else in Scripture, and let no one lay upon you any other command. Wherever there is an obscure passage of Scripture, charity is concealed in it, and wherever the sense is plain, charity is proclaimed. If it were nowhere plain to see, it would not nourish you; if it were nowhere concealed, it would not exercise you. The same charity cries out from a pure heart in the words of the Psalm and from hearts like his who prays here. And who this is, I can tell you in a word: it is Christ. (Exp. of Psa 140,2)
This Word is no more nor less than Jesus Christ our Boss. Our ability to stay hungry for this “pure spiritual milk,” this living Word, relies to a degree on Peter’s perspective, who said, “Like newborn babies, crave …” 1 Peter is written to Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire, some suffering tough times. Peter wrote,
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:2–5)
Regardless of how mature we are, we’re all still novices in Christ. Can you approach Scripture, even today, with a craving and as a novice? Again, Augustine provides some helpful insight. To his friend Volusianus, he mentioned the vastness of Scripture and made a plea for a mature novice, whose hunger is never satisfied, whose humility launches to higher heights.
For the depth of the Christian writings is so great that I would daily make progress in them if I tried with the greatest leisure, the highest desire, and greater talent to master them alone from the beginning of boyhood up to decrepit old age. It is not that one comes to those matters that are necessary for salvation with such great difficulty, but, though each person grasps them in the faith without which one does not live a pious and upright life, there remain to be understood by those making progress so many things, and things cloaked in such shadows of mysteries, and their lies hidden so great a depth of wisdom, not only in the words by which they are stated that way but also in the realities that are to be understood, that those who are the oldest, the most intelligent, and the most ardent with the desire to learn, experience what the same Scripture says in another passage, When a human being has come to the end, then he is at the beginning (Sir 18:6). (Augustine Letter 137.3)
I pray that this soaking of the soul. This reading towards conversion. This encounter with the “living Stone.” This continual progress towards growing up in him, which is spiritual wisdom and the good life, typifies your ongoing salvation experience and journey home. For though we temporarily reside on earth, our real home is in heaven. And, as we journey to that Heavenly City, we’re called to be a citizen of heaven, who makes an earthly difference as our soul is nourished from the Word, the food of life. (John 6:25–71)