The Bible isn't meant to mean the same thing to everyone. We all bring to it our own experiences and personality so that some things just strike us differently, the same way we can have a shared experience in any other capacity of our lives and walk away talking about a different aspect of it than someone else who was in the same room.
The first thing we have to understand about this is that there are some things in the Bible, just as there are things in life, that we will never understand if it only has one meaning. Never. There are things we are just not equipped by our being to comprehend.
The obvious examples are male and female, just at a very basic level. As a female, I will never understand circumcision. I can have an academic, intellectual understanding of it, but it's not something I can ever know with the fullness of my being. In the same way, a male will never understand labor pains and the excruciating physical toll of childbirth. He can't. He can have an academic, intellectual understanding. He might even witness it in the birthing room. But he can never know it.
There are other things that are more circumstantial. Most of us who live in a place like America, or most of the other "first-world" countries, do not know war. Not in the way that someone living in Rwanda knows it. Most of us do not know hunger. Not in the way that someone in a famine, like Joseph or the prophet's widow, would know it.
These folks who say that you cannot understand the Bible except in one very specific way would say, then, that there are parts of the Bible that are always going to remain foreign to you. There are always going to be things that are outside of your reach. Because the Bible only means one thing and there's only one way to read it, the best you can hope for is the academic, intellectual understanding of the things of God.
And I'm telling you - an academic understanding does not make a faith.
You can intellectually understand everything about God, but that would not help you to understand the most important thing about Him in a way that would be even remotely meaningful - His love. The essence of God is not the facts of God; it's the heart of God. And if we're limited to one single message that most of us cannot relate to, then the fact of the matter is that most of us could not relate to God.
Which is kind of exactly where we're at.
Instead, what God has given us is the chance to go to His party, to come to His Word, and experience it fully in a way that is most meaningful to us. Some of us can feel the hunger; some of us recall fondly the provision. Some of us feel the pain; some of us have only witnessed it. Some of us have tasted the goodness; some of us have only dreamed of it. But we all have a way to get there. We all have a way to experience the fullness of the message that God is trying to get across without it having to be an exact one-to-one match.
Any male who has ever been in a birthing room can attest to that much. He doesn't need to feel the pain to have experienced it in a way that he knows that it is real.
And that's what we're talking about. We're talking about the ways in which we can have a holy experience and get the message, really get the message in a way that impacts our hearts, without being boxed into one thing and being told that we cannot, in fact, get the message since we didn't get that one thing. It's baloney.
It's nothing more than a manipulation of the "learned" (however they want to define themselves) to keep them as the gatekeepers of God...and God does not need gatekeepers. Remember what happened any time the disciples said they tried to shut someone down or keep someone out? Jesus told them plainly not to do that.
The same standard still applies.
Tomorrow, we'll put the last piece into this so that you might see, perhaps, how much unlike heresy is this proposal that I'm making. And perhaps, just perhaps, it will set you free to engage God's Word however it strikes you as you pursue Him this year...and to not feel guilty about that and to not let yourself be convinced that you're not getting it when your heart testifies that indeed, you truly are.
There are some things in the Bible that, if it only means one thing, we will never understand. Never. We don't have the experiences or perspectives that would let us understand it, no matter how much someone preaches it at us.
Are we then to say that the Bible is just not for us? that God has some good word that we're just in the wrong place and time to know? That's absurd.