As believers, I think oftentimes our tendency is to read the Bible and make it about the Christian life, instead of about Christ. We look to the Bible to answer questions like “What does the Bible say about smoking weed”. “What does the Bible say about gambling”. “What does the Bible say about debt and finances”, and so forth. We’ve been told for a long time that the Bible is a guidebook for living. That’s its our B.I.B.L.E [ Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.] and because its our B.I.B.L.E, we’re able to read it as a manual and expect that it will have all the answers to all the questions we have, regardless of the topic or obscurity of thought.
So take questions on sex, debt, tattoos, smoking, dieting, leadership, pornography, etc. These are questions that we expect the Bible to answer. We have these things on our mind and we go through the Bible or type in a word search into biblegateway.com, and one of two things happen. 1) we get frustrated because the answers aren’t clear, or 2), or we get emboldened to extrapolate answers from bits and pieces of ideas that really were never designed to provide answers for us, which results in bad exegesis and ideas which go beyond the scope of what is actually written.
Why aren’t the answers front and center to those kinds of questions? Its because the Bible doesn’t just provide us with answers, but it changes the culture of the questions that we ask. The answers aren’t always clear because when we read the scriptures, the Bible doesn’t push us to answer those kinds of questions. Rather, when we read the scriptures, we are prompted to ask different kinds of questions altogether. Questions like “Who will rescue me from this body of death, O wretched man that I am?” ” How can a man become right before God?” “Should we sin more so that grace may abound”? ” Who is my shield, my portion, my strength?”
The Bible wasn’t designed to answer all these relatively obscure questions we come to ask it, but rather the Scriptures actually informs and changes the very questions we ask. It pushes us to ask a whole separate kind of questions. The Bible talks about a lot of things, but it doesn’t give all its themes equal air time. Rather, the dominant message of the Bible is God loves and in Jesus justifies sinners. That framework functions as the lens by which every story, parable, historical happening, theological idea, person, miracle, act of God is read through and is purposed by. So as we read the Bible and study the world, we need to ask God to grip us by the radically disproportionate focus on God’s saving love for sinners, seen and accomplished in Jesus Christ, up and against everything else.
Different kinds of questions. Different culture for the questioner.
September 17th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
my Pastor did a sermon on this very topic last night. Guess I needed to hear it!