The Bible is unlike any other book in the history of mankind. Over 20 million Bibles are sold each year in the U.S. alone. The Bible is not allowed to be on bestseller lists, because it would top the lists week in and week out. While no book has been more quoted than the Bible, it’s also true that no book has been more misquoted either. Incredible damage has been done by people who have misused the Bible, seeking to use it to control or manipulate others. So, how is an incredible book that is central to the faith of millions so often used in ways that hurt rather than help? How can we become more reliable in our use of the Bible?
We become more reliable in our treatment of the Bible when we treat it less like a Google search and more like a relationship. There are basic rules of engagement that keep relationships healthy. Many of those same rules will help us be more healthy in our use of the Bible. Here are a couple examples:
We Must Allow The Bible To Be What It Is, Not What We Hope It Would Be
Many people try to twist the Bible to be something it isn’t. We try to make it play by the rules of a science textbook (which it never claims to be). We try to use it as a justification for military action (again not it’s purpose). We even try to use it as a way to guilt others into good behavior. The Bible speaks to a great many things, but it’s purpose is simple and clear. It is a tool that allows us to more fully know God and as a consequence of that to more fully understand ourselves. In our relationships we must allow people to be who they are, rather than trying to force them to be someone they are not. The same is true with our approach to the Bible. We must allow the Bible to say what it says and to remain silent where it remains silent. It’s dangerous to project our thoughts, histories, and biases onto others. We cannot assume that others see the world in the same way that we do. Others may feel things and see things very differently than we do. Understanding that is the first step to deep relationship. The same is true of the Bible. We must understand that the Bible may not simply affirm everything I already believe. Accepting that the Bible may have something to tell me that makes me uncomfortable is an important first step to treating it wisely.
More Time = Greater Depth
Relationships don’t start strong and fully mature. It takes time to get to know someone. It takes time to trust them fully. There are no shortcuts. The same is true of the Bible. The more time we spend with it the more we understand and the more it changes how we see life. Simply having the Bible as a resource book on the shelf, to be grabbed when things become difficult will not do. The time we spend reading the Bible and thinking over what we have read is what develops strength and wisdom for life’s most challenging moments. If you take a second to think of your very closest friends, you will likely find them to be the people that you have invested the most time in. For the Bible to become a trusted friend, we must give it time as well.
Your relationship with the Bible can change your life in many wonderful ways. Remember what makes relationships healthy, and you’ll find your time with the Bible to be more enjoyable and beneficial.
Statistics from the opening paragraph found at http://brandongaille.com/27-good-bible-sales-statistics/