What is the Bible? I know it is a book that actually contains 66 books. I know that it is traditionally divided into two parts; the new and old testament. I know that the literary genres of the book vary: there are epistles, poetry, and historical accounts to name some. So I guess the question that I am asking is what exactly is the book we call the Bible getting at, and if we take seriously the concept of it being inspired by the third member of the Godhead, how are we supposed to use it? What is it supposed to tell us?
That is a pretty complex question and I think there is perhaps more than one straight-forward answer to this. However, I want to put forth the notion that the Bible is first of all a story. A true story at that. And one that has a beginning, middle, and end. A story that has a problem and a solution. A story that has characters, action, comedy, love, and a climax. This is not supposed to be treated as a collection of abstract concepts that we should live by. I don’t think that it is our “road map to life.” I don’t think that it is broken down into verses so that we can pick a few and figure out what it means to us. I don’t think it’s meant to be read a couple of sentences at a time for a pick me up. I also don’t think that it is a big book of theological facts that we can use as proof texts for what we think about God.
Now please don’t misunderstand me.I do think that within the Bible there is theological truth. I think that our understanding of God should line itself with the Bible. I think that there are principles in the Bible that should play out in our lives. I think the Bible should give us hope and encouragement. I just think first and foremost the Bible is looking to get across a story. And this story is one of Biblical proportions. (See what I did there?) It is a story that centers around God, the infiltration of evil, and the quest to set all things right once more. It is a story of redemption, restoration, love, and the victory of good over evil.
Hopefully this has peaked your interest some. I want to get people to fall in love with the Bible. However, simply pulling it off the shelf, opening to a page, throwing up a prayer, reading a couple verses, and expecting God to speak to you with profound insight about the problem you are facing isn’t really getting you the best bang for your buck when it comes to this divine book. So I encourage anyone feeling up for the challenge to pull out a bible and start at the beginning. Don’t get hung up if you aren’t sure why God did this or that. Don’t get hung up on understanding every little detail. Sometimes I do and It drives me mad.
There is a time for that sort of reading, and we all need it, but set some time aside to just enter the story. I think that is something that we have lost in our reading of the bible. We need to recapture the story. Reading this epic tale with the cross and resurrection at the climax has helped me to gain a greater perspective for God’s great work and where my cameo is within it. Learning to stop viewing the Bible as a magic 8 ball or this old book of rules has brought so much more to my time reading it. Start tonight. Enter into the tale of how God’s grand creation went wrong, the plan He set in action to set things right, the twist that takes place when the people who were supposed to carry out the plan seem to be failing, the climax that is wrapped up in this character named Jesus, the aftermath of that history changing moment, and then seeing the story come to a close. I won’t ruin the ending, but it is definitely satisfying.
To be fair it may seem a bit dry at parts. As I’ve come to learn more and read the story over as a whole a few more times those parts make more sense within the whole story and get more exciting. Yeah, that’s right. It’s not a one time read. Just like a movie that has to be watched a few times to be fully appreciated, the biblical narrative deserves repeat visits. So close your web browser and get started recapturing the story.