The Bible is Much More Than Simply “How to Behave”
The Bible is God’s story. The Bible is God’s revealing of Himself and His purposes. And an overarching theme, if not the theme, is God’s pursuit of His people. A slightly fancier word would be His “mediation” with humanity.
God has been drawing us to Himself since, what we call, the beginning of time.
You hear many people who read the Bible say they read it to live rightly or to “apply it to their lives.” This is good. This is very good. May we just never forget or overlook or let be swallowed up, the deeper truth that the Bible is God’s revealing of Himself for the purposes of us being able to know Him and be connected intimately to Him. This is first and foremost.
We have the need, desire, and craving for connection and belonging woven into our hearts. It’s undeniable. And you see this through stories. Even the harshest people I know love story. They, at bare minimum, love telling stories about themselves. Why? Connection. Belonging. Listen closely and you will hear it.
For your children, or your parents, what would you choose between the following:
~ That they always behave, never going against any of your rules or God’s, yet you will never be closely connected. Your relationship will never be “deep.” You won’t talk about everything, only stay near the surface–weather, current events, advice-giving, general conversation. No experiencing of life together.
~ They will break some, many, of the rules along the way, going against your wishes a lot of the time. Yet you stay connected via deep communication, growing in intimacy, due to the going through of many and varied life experiences together. Experiential involvement with them–actual engagement.
Sadly, many today I believe would actually choose “A”. Just do everything you’re suppose to do. Which of course translates into “Everything I want.” Well if that’s not a beautiful relationship, I don’t know what is!
Read the Bible carefully. Listen to God in the Bible. That, I think, is what God wants anyway. To read carefully with a listening ear attuned to Him for what He is wanting to say clearly to us. And in so doing, see if you really come to the conclusion that God wants you to go to church because you’re suppose to. Read the Bible because you should. Help others because you have to. That sounds like quite the imprisoning and, frankly, dumb religion. Not one that would emanate from an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving Creator. If that was it, I’d be like, “You create this entire universe of wonder, and that’s all you got as far as relating to us?”
When you go to church, read the Bible, help the poor out of obligation, you are “shoulding” all over yourself. You’re doing things because you should. And we all know what happens to us when we should all over ourselves–we become disgusting. There’s no beauty there. Beauty comes from doing out of love in the heart. If the inside is beautiful, the outside will automatically become beautiful.
“You Pharisees clean the outside of the dish, but your insides are full of greed and filth. How foolish of you! Isn’t God as interested in your insides as your outside?” (Luke 11:39-40)
“If you wash a dish well on the inside, won’t the outside come clean in the process?” (Matthew 23:26)
So back to God’s mediation with humanity in the Bible. Looking at that 30,000 foot view, here are the forms of His mediation as charted in the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible (now called The Life With God Bible).
- Through the family
- Through God’s terrifying acts and the law
- Through the conquest and learning to act with God
- Through the king, prophets, priests, and sacrifices
- Through suffering and the disappointments of life
- Through song, prayer, worship
- Through wisdom
- Through the prophets and the repression of the Gentiles
- Through punishment, being a blessing to their captors
- Through repentance, service, synagogue study
- Through the Incarnate Word and the living presence of the kingdom
- Through the Holy Spirit, persecution, and martyrdom
- In one another, through Scripture, teaching, preaching, prophetic utterance, pastoral care, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments
- Throughout the cosmos (Revelation)
Again, here we see more clearly, I hope, God’s purpose and desire to be with us, as revealed in and throughout the whole of Scripture.
May we read it with this in mind always.
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria