“… from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
—2 Timothy 3:15
What is the Bible good for? Judging by the last few centuries, the Bible seems to be good for proving one’s point in debating about the Christian faith, should anyone on the other side actually be listening. Many have grown adept in using the Bible as a club with which to pummel assorted irreligious infidels. Others have found the Bible quite useful for marking off the boundaries of their unique sub-group within Christendom, arguing forcefully that their group is the only legitimate expression of the Christian faith.
What is the Bible good for? The apostle Paul believed that Scripture was useful for teaching what is true and right, rebuking what is wrong, correcting those who’ve gotten off track, and training in the skills of staying on the right path. In a nutshell, Paul taught that Scripture is useful for equipping people to do good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLauren observes that we Christians have thrived when we’ve used the Bible with the goal of “becoming good people who do good works in God’s good world.” In contrast, we’ve gotten off track when we’ve used the Bible as an assault weapon, a tool to intimidate, or a short-cut to being know-it-alls. When Christians have understood what the Bible is good for, they have “left the comforts of home and country and gone to every corner of the world, spreading the Good News of Jesus… They have built hospitals and schools…given money to needy people… crossed racial, ethnic and class barriers… chosen to suffer rather than betray faith.”
What is the Bible good for? Thomas à Kempis wrote that “A wise love regards not so much the gift of him who loves, as the love of him who gives.” The Bible is best appreciated when we allow it to steer us toward a deeper love for God and a Christ-like life that corresponds to that love. May we read humbly, live faithfully, and enjoy the joys of loving God wholeheartedly.