It seems, for so many, that the Bible has taken on a sort of deity or divinity of its own. Rather than honoring and loving the God revealed through reading, we spout “The Bible says…” without thinking through why the Bible says it. Instead of being the God inspired book by which hope and life are given, it’s become a text by which the life is being sucked and raped from its very essence. It’s as though we’ve disregarded the fact that this Holy Book is meant to serve as a roadmap or tour guide to what God is like; and instead regard it as a dusty law book only to be quoted from to serve our talking points. We’ve made the Bible the constitution of Christianity when it’s much deeper and more significant than that.
Rather than being a Holy reference point, an inspirational, life giving book; the Bible has become a divine sword to wield power over unsuspecting bystanders. This book has been used to justify slavery, the second class status of women and now one group of Christians uses it to label homosexuals as subhuman while another justifies the gay life style. I’ve seen examples of pastors and preachers stretch the Bible to say things pretty far fetched only to recant years later. We’ve been guilty of placing far too much stock in some passages while not valuing other verses nearly enough.
As such, we see many modern commentaries, both secular and religious, who simply use biblical texts as mere footnotes to their ideologies rather than a framework or foundation to build from. There are always those that will use the Bible to support the status quo so that their comfort isn’t challenged by changes that come through growth and experience. Just as dangerous, there are those that will pervert and twist scripture to fit ideologies that don’t even come close to the nature of God.
The honest attempt to understand and grasp the great depths of the Bible must start at a common point. At the cross and in the life of Jesus. The Bible, correctly read, understood and interpreted begins with a central theme: Jesus. However, to fully grasp and understand Jesus, we must remove our old, outdated, and dusty, cracked spectacles, which have been developed through misinterpreting the Bible previously, and be willing to rethink everything.
As daunting and uncomfortable as this mission may be, it’s essential. Not only is it essential, it’s liberating. Not only is it liberating, it’s biblical. Not only is it biblical, it’s something Jesus himself proclaimed.
Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 AMP)
Within this, we see something very important. If we don’t take it from the top, be reborn, rethink everything; we’re going to miss out on the Thing that Jesus is about. And how do we discover the thing that Jesus is about? By the scriptures which reveal Him to us.
If the natural human tendency is to fight against this rethinking, I get it. I was once there. I’m still sometimes there. Some of the claims and requirements of Christ seem outrageous at best and impossible at worst. But I listen to those much smarter than me who propose, ” Do you think you got everything right the first time? Do you think yourself so righteous and astute that there’s no need to be reborn, as Jesus commands?” (That will humble you…)
And rethinking the way you read the Bible, the way you see Jesus isn’t a one time occurrence. Or a once every decade occasion. Or even an annual journey. Rather daily we must renew our minds. Only by renewing our minds daily, do we see the true, revealed, God incarnate Jesus. So read the Bible. Read varying translations. Read blogs and commentaries. Read books from respected theologians. Observe people. Observe nature. Pray. Write. Journal.
Through all of these endless, unquenchable pursuits of Jesus, may we come to know Him more and more, and may our minds be renewed daily. Surely our hearts will break for the things Jesus’ breaks for, and our soul groan to see justice done. By this, we may come to see the Bible for its’ incredible beauty, mystery and wonder. May we come to revere it as something sacred and awesome, not a means to a selfish, agenda-driven end.