We spend a great deal of time in our classes and services reading the Bible. Have you ever wondered why? Perhaps not, but since I am writing this article, let me tell you what I think anyway. 🙂
Scripture carries with it a profound strength and power in my life. It reminds me of who God is and what God has done in history. When we read Scripture together, whether it be on Sunday morning at worship, in the setting of a summer camp or retreat, or just with two or three people together in a home, I find it to be centering and powerful.
Part of the beauty of the Christian Bible, as we read it, is in its composition. It is not a rule book or technical manual for life. Instead, it is a dynamic story, written in at least five parts. You can divide it differently, but I like to think of it in this way. Part one is the story of creation. God decides that our existence is worth his loving effort. God speaks, then we and everything we know of comes to be. Part two is what we call “the Fall.” It is about how selfishness and sin come rushing into our story and the perfect relationship we could have had with God and creation is broken. Part three is the story of God setting up the redemption of the world by choosing and guiding Israel. Part four is the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus comes as God in the flesh to complete the redemption that began through Israel. Through Jesus’s message – coupled with his death, burial, and resurrection – God is bringing the world back to what is right. God is making it possible for creation and all people to be back in perfect relationship with him. Part five is the story of the church that Jesus established. It is the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Part five is not yet complete. It is a story waiting to be fulfilled. We have a part in it. We are the current players in this grand story that is shaped and defined by God.
Within this grand story are multiple smaller stories. Scripture is filled with stories of men and women whose rise and fall depend on whether they honor God with their lives or ignore his instruction. Over and over, we see both good and bad examples of people who have gone on before us. Some are faithful; many are not. Even those who are faithful have near fatal flaws. In reading, we learn to honor God and see that his love truly does endure. Stories like this have the power to make children dream big dreams and empower men and women to walk along the paths of righteousness!
When I fall, and realize how far I am from perfect, I only need to look to the pages of Scripture to be reminded that I am not alone. In all of Scripture – and history – not one person has ever lived up to perfection. The only perfect character is God who reveals himself to us in many different ways through this grand story. The amazing thing is that God saw our flaws in advance. God believed our existence was worth his pain and loving effort. God has given us the grand story of Scripture to guide us back to himself. That, my friends, is why we should read the Bible.