When it’s time to watch a movie or read a book, we all have expectations. Those expectations are based on the category of literature that the story belongs to.
Coming to a movie or book without knowing the genre may leave us confused or disappointed. If we expected fight scenes in a classic romance film, or romance in a documentary, we are likely to be disappointed.
The same is true when we open the Bible. Many of us have false expectations when we come to the bible because we don’t understand the literature of the Bible. We make a mistake and assume every sentence in the Bible is God’s direct speech to us about our present situation.
It’s true that all of the Bible is God’s Word, but we must understand what the Bible means when it says this (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21).
God chose to communicate to us creatively. He taught us about his design for love through a reflective songbook (Song of Songs); he teaches us how to pray and relate to him through the poetry of the Psalms; he speaks of his faithfulness and power by relaying the history of Israel and his work among that nation; he teaches us how to live as his people through letters sent to historical churches in the first century.
God’s Word to us is a story. It’s a story comprised of many other diverse types of stories.
The Bible includes every type of literature. If we take care to understand the genre we are reading, we will better understand how God wants to communicate to us through that book.
Next time you pick up the Bible to read, consider the book you’re reading from. Find out which genre it belongs to, jot down three distinctive qualities of that type of literature, and expect God to speak to you as you read consciously and carefully.