I have been concerned in recent days about our relationship with the Bible. Three real life scenarios will open up my fears. I was on a social media discussion and someone shared how she was ashamed of herself as she had come in from Church on Sunday, left her Bible on the washing machine in the utility room and had not lifted it for almost a week. My immediate reaction was, “I wish!”
Wouldn’t it be great if the Bible was the kind of thing that could be set down? It was certainly never God’s intention that it could be left anywhere. It was his idea that it would become apart of us. Paul told the Colossians that they should let the “word of God dwell in you richly”. I find it pouring into my mind and heart and soul in all kinds of daily scenarios while the hard copy is back on my desk! It is not to be contained in lines on pages and bound by leather and gold edge. This is a book that is not so much about you reading it but it reading you.
The next scenario comes from a sermon that was all about the dangers of the junk that modern culture fills our minds with. I have no argument with that! The preacher, however, suggested that we maybe watch as much as five hours television a night and then only give ten minutes to reading the Bible. Again this is a shocking understanding of the Bible and its relationship to us and our living. It seems that we have compartmentalised the Bible and entertainment. They live in separate rooms and there is no door between. The Bible was never meant to have its own place. It was meant to seep through every pore of our lives. As I am watching the news, film drama, music and even sport that the Bible, even without it open on my lap, is helping me think about all I am watching in a Biblical way.
The last story is about someone who was worried about their relationship with God. When asked in what ways, it all came down to the amount she was reading the Bible. Though my friend should rightfully have sought some help in re–igniting her Bible reading the fact that she was not reading it has little to do with her relationship with God. Yet she has been taught that it was. Indeed she has been taught that it was the be all and end all of her faith. Of course it is not. For centuries after Christ’s ascension nobody had a Bible to read. Did they have no relationship with God? Of course not! Bible reading notes are a phenomenon of the last fifty years so were the Christians who never heard the words “quiet time” for 1900 years, all living in a dodgy relationship with God. Of course not!
All three of the above stories reveal a fatally faulty mindset when it comes to our relationship with The Bible. And before anybody sees my motives as diminishing the importance of the Bible to our Christian tradition let me state that my concerns are quite the opposite. The above stories are the effects of our containing and confining the Scriptures, of making them too small in their impact. It could well be one of the devil’s crucial distractions that realising we are committed so much to Scripture he abuses that commitment to distort its place. In the end the Bible becomes an end in itself instead of a means to transform our lives and the world!
Bible reading is not so much discipleship as a resource for discipleship. Doing a quiet time is not following Jesus, he never did one! Jesus hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. That is what we should be doing. The Bible is the wisdom to resource our discernment and give us courage in our decisions as we try to do what Jesus would have done! So on a night where we watch five hours of television and do a ten minute quiet time the entire evening should be a resource for Bible study because as we watch we should be wrestling with its truth and how it applies to every scenario on the screen. And if it comes alive in your dealing with the issues that culture raises then your thinking will be released into every conversation in every area of your life and therefore society and the Bible will suddenly be alive all around us instead of lying like some dead book on the washing machine!
Now something that needs said as we draw this thought to a conclusion. Before it can read you, you have to have read it. So if it is not dwelling in you richly don’t leave it on the washing machine. Get into it. Read it until its coming out of your ears (heart, soul and mind!) but do so not in order to make yourself feel smugly in touch with God today but so that eventually you will not be able to leave it down because it will go absolutely everywhere with you, pages flicking up to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness so that we are thoroughly equipped for every good work as Paul told Timothy it would do!
So where is your Bible?