I use to view the Bible as a legal document that proved my righteousness. The legal codes were too complex for my un-spiritual mind so I paid a professional to tell me what the texts meant and to show me how I was messing up or getting it right. I personally had no desire to read the Bible for myself as legal code didn’t excite me in the least. When I forced myself to read it, I just read mindlessly until I found a nice quip that would give me a tiny glimpse of God’s love for me. These tended to be buried deep within the text though and took much careful reading to find or would be easily missed.
After years of trying to read the Bible this way, I only became more confused as so many of the legal codes conflicted. An instructor of a Biblical Studies class I took first hinted to me of the Bible being more of a cherished novel than a book of legal code. When I started reading the Bible like this, I got a little more from it, but much of the story was still confusing. However, as I grew more spiritually, I began to see what (or I should say Who) the entirety of the Bible revealed–Jesus! It began to take on more of a love story than legal proof. Yes, there is “legal” proof that we have been made righteous, but it is only by Father’s love for us poured through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I cherish the Bible now like a well loved novel, not looking for one-liners to prove that I’m okay, but instead looking for how much we are loved by God and how the entire story ties together in that regard.
I’ve heard cliches such as “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t” but have come to disagree with this sentiment in part. The vast majority of people who have such Bibles seem to be searching them for legal codes to comfort themselves on a daily basis. I use to highlight my Bible, but then, I began highlighting so much that the entire Bible became illuminated. Every word is part of God’s story to bring a broken humanity into his love relationship. This brings the Bible alive to me in a way that legal proofing never did.
Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”–John 1:45
“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me.–John 5:39
On a side note, I received Wayne Jacobsen’s new book “Finding Church” yesterday and have been reading that as I have the time. So far it is quite good and I would highly recommend it.