Stop Selling Maps, Go On Hikes

I recently read Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson, the guy most known for writing The Message translation or paraphrase of the Bible.

Over the past few years in seminary I’ve grown to respect Peterson more and more. He’s the antithesis of the celebrity pastor where pastors tour and lead incredibly large organizations. Peterson lives in a small Montana town and has never led a large church. He’s devoted to the discipline of study, writing, and running—all things I care about being consistently devoted to.

But this post isn’t about Peterson, as encouraging as his life, writing, and pastoral ministry is to me, this is about something he wrote in that book, Working the Angles.

I’ve taken several classes on bible study, even one class titled “Bible Study Methods.” 95% of my seminary education has taught me that good bible study is all about good exegetical work in preparation for leading individuals or groups through a passage of Scripture.

In all of those hours of reading outside of class and listening to lectures in class nothing has stuck out to me like what Peterson shares about Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch spoken of in Acts 8 (read the whole passage here).

Philip has to make a choice: will he stand alongside the chariot, providing information and answering questions about Scripture, exegetical work that comes easily for him, or will he involve himself in a spiritual quest with this stranger? Will I? It is the difference between the shopkeeper who sells maps of the wilderness and the person who goes with you into it, risking the dangers, helping to cook the meals, and sharing the weather. Philip decides on hodegesis (to guide). He climbs into the chariot and shares the journey.

I don’t know about you, but far too often I don’t look at studying the Scriptures with others as a sharing of the journey. So often I view myself as the master imparting knowledge to others.

So often I’m the shopkeeper selling maps of the outside wilderness while staying in my comfortable shop never risking the adventure of going on a hike with those who are exploring.

Will we involve ourselves in the spiritual quests and explorations of others?

Stop selling maps.

Go on hikes.