How strange it would be to be invited to walk through a door to meet someone, but instead of walking through the door into a room and getting to know the person who invited you in, you spent all your time studying the door!
I heard the senior pastor of a large church give a fervent, ten-or-so minute talk to a group of visitors to his Sunday service. His talk was at a post-service lunch he had provided by way of welcome. After the food was eaten, he spoke passionately about the Biblical foundation for his church, he and his staff’s passion for the Bible and how all that happens there found its inspiration in “the infallible, inerrant word of God – The Bible” … but he did not mention Jesus once.
I hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about the Bible: How it’s the instruction manual for life, how the Christian’s world view must be based on the Bible and how studying the Bible is the most important thing to do for people of the Christian faith. Many Christians go to extraordinary lengths to show that their particular interpretation of some aspect of the Bible’s teaching is the correct interpretation and that the interpretation of others is incorrect. It sometimes seems that, for many people of the Christian faith, being convinced of their correct position on Biblical exegeses is the main goal.
But are we followers of Jesus, or followers of the teachings of The Bible?
Oswald Chambers remind us:
“A spiritually-minded person will never come to you with the demand – ‘Believe this and that’ – a spiritually-minded person will demand that you align your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One whom the Bible reveals.”
Are we submitting our lives to the standard of Jesus the Christ, or only to our interpretation of the God-inspired book that reveals His standard? Chambers continues…
“Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus. Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone; and always be careful never to place a yoke on others that is not of Jesus Christ.”
Are our lives submitted wholly in the sacrificial worship of God, or do we worship our current, faulty and incomplete intellectual understanding of Him? Are we surrendering our own agenda so that we can be the hands and feet of Christ here and now, or are we driven by a personal agenda to prove that we know more correct information about God than others?
“It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view.” Oswald Chambers
Jesus does not ask us to make people align themselves to our own cerebral concepts about God. If we are ourselves disciples of Christ, in stark contrast to the desire to make converts to our own way of thinking, Jesus asks us to make others His disciples also. Matthew 28:19
The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus time on earth in physical form knew the scriptures very well. They read their “Bible” more and studied harder than anyone else! We would do well to remember what Jesus said to them:
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40
I believe that the Bible was written by people who were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to do so, and exists exactly as God has allowed it. I study scripture because, through it, truth about God can be revealed to me. I encourage everyone I can to read, study and meditate on scripture. But we must see the Bible as a doorway through which Jesus invites us to walk so that we encounter Him. The door is elaborate, amazing, wonderful and can be studied without end for a lifetime. But it is not the Bible that saves. Only Jesus can do that.
(You can read the Oswald Chambers devotional from “My Utmost For His Highest” that inspired this BlogPost here)