I was reflecting on what is happening in the world today, especially in contexts where religious conflicts are commonplace, and was sobered by the fact that Christians are still being brutally persecuted today.

And then something dawned upon me concerning our experience of understanding the Bible.

First, we must understand that our cultural experiences can open our eyes to what the scriptures talk about because we can relate to it or it can blind us because we can’t.

Second, my revelation is this: The lens that most Americans lack when reading the Bible is the lens of suffering for Jesus. It blinds us from the experience of the Bible’s writers because most of the New Testament was written in a context of suffering for the name of Jesus.

I am imagining the writers of the Holy Scriptures, not casually writing there in their safe house. But I imagine Paul sitting in prison, with lashes on his back, on a miserably cold floor, and with meager portions of food, where the only thing warming him at that point is the love of God he gets to experience in being a servant of God who preaches His gospel.

And as we are casually sitting at our desks, in our pews, at the train station, in our cars, at our worship services here in America, the truth is, we have no idea what the costs of penning those precious words we call scripture are. The emotions are bleeding through the pages yet we have no experiences to receive those words.

Our lack of understanding the Bible is not solely from a lack of knowledge, but from a lack of an experience of a Christianity that costs us something dear–our very own physical lives.

And part of me believes that we will never experience the Bible fully as it is meant to be experienced unless our faith costs us something, as it did the apostles of old.