What is the Bible? It sounds like a sort of silly question. I mean, we know what the Bible is. It has been referred to as “The Word of God”, “The Good Book”, “A Roadmap for Life”, “A Divinely Inspired Book”,etc. But what is it really? What is it at its core? And more importantly, why do we “use” the Bible the way that we do.
I will admit that I own several versions of the Bible. I own a couple NIV, a NKJV, a parallel Bible, a chronological study Bible, a re-arranged version called “The Books of the Bible” and in owning all of them, I have only recently started to understand or re-evaluate what the Bible is and more importantly what each section of the Bible is. For most it is easy to say that the old testament is history and lineage and the new testament is the life and ministry of Jesus as well as the foundations for the church. I am not going to argue that those things are true, but there is more to it.
The Bible is many things to me, but the primary thing is that it is a glimpse into God’s own heart, but we seldom read it, look at it, or talk about it in those terms.
We seldom treat the Bible as something that is collective. We seldom can even accept the general division into two books (OT and NT). We see it as a line by line dictionary for life. Or maybe an Atlas for life. When you are lost and struggling with this, read this passage and everything will be made clear. That is abusing and misusing the text.
This is a hard point to make, but we should be viewing the Bible as if the chapters and verses do not exist. We should have to take everything in the context of the whole. That is to say that when we read something that moves us, or stirs something in us, we need to understand the context for that.
Treating the Bible as a reference tool, turns the focus of the Bible away from God and onto us. That is to say, that when we go to the Bible looking for the answer to our problems and our struggles, we are not seeing what the Lord is doing in those struggles. We are not finding his purpose and His comfort, but rather rummaging through trying to find whatever we need to make our point-of-view the correct one. We are making the Bible all about us. Sure we are turning to God’s Word to find an answer, but we are not getting there through trusting Him. We are using all the tools (concordance, topical dictionaries) to point us to a phrase that deals with what we are going through and ignoring the larger context.
For example, if we scour through any of the letters in the new testament for answers and apply them to our individual life. If we use the letters as justification for our individual actions, then we are missing the entire point of the letters. The letters were written to the BODY of believers in those cities. They were calls to the entire community. The letters are about building life together with fellow believers and they also deal with interactions between the BODY. They are not a justification for how one treats a non-believer.
For me, right now, there has been a lot of perspective changes that have needed to take place. I am trying my best to make those and let go of the old things that I felt made me a better Christian. Learning how to truly look at and read the Bible is one of those things. I must remember that in all honesty, the Bible was not written for me to find my answers, but rather for the body to find the desires of God.