I wonder what comes to mind for you when you think of the Bible? What is the Bible all about?
Some people have sentimentalized it as “God’s love letter to me.” While this is true on some levels, it misses the heartbeat of the book. Take a quick scan through Leviticus or Judges and suddenly it doesn’t feel too much like a personal love letter!
I have often heard people define the Bible as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Again, while the Bible certainly does teach me how to live, the vast majority of passages in this book do not leave you with a clear “do this” or “don’t do this” message.
The Bible can be confusing for many reasons. Many people begin reading in Genesis and expect it to unfold chronologically as a story the whole way through. Then they’re blindsided by Leviticus, and if they manage to push through to Kings and Chronicles they begin to feel as though they are reading repeats of the same stories [sometimes they are!]. Usually people give up at some point and skip to the New Testament.
Then we read through the parables and sermons of Jesus, and to be honest, they don’t always make sense to us. We guess at what they mean, we highlight verses that seem particularly poetic and profound, and then we all play along like we understand. The rest of the New Testament has loads of “underlinable” verses… and we just skip the parts that seem confusing or irrelevant. And don’t even mention Revelation – that book is just weird.
Does that sound familiar to you? I think all of us have felt like this at one point or another!
Let me tell you something that completely changed the way I read and understand Scripture. Learning this helped to unlock some of those “weird,” “confusing,” and “irrelevant” passages for me.
The Bible isn’t about me. The Bible is about God.
The Bible is God’s story. 66 books woven together into an incredibly rich and profound tapestry – some books are full of narrative (history told in story), some are laws, some are prophecies, some are letters to individuals and specific groups. All of them are inspired by God – all of them are included for a reason.
While this book is not a simple story easily digestible in one quick read, it all forms one beautiful and grand narrative. The story of a God who is, who was, and who is to come. The story of a God who created humanity in His image, initiated relationship with them, and loved them enough to go to incredible lengths to redeem them from their own brokenness. If we approach this book with the underlying questions, “what does this mean to me? How does this make me feel?” – we will conclude that it is irrelevant and we will skip to the next part. But if we approach with the questions, “what does this mean? What does this tell me about God and His ways?” – it will revolutionize the way we read our Bibles, and it will revolutionize our relationships with God.
The Bible is not all about me. The Bible is all about God. I don’t read the Bible to make me feel good – I read the Bible to catch a glimpse of the greatness and glory of our amazing God. And yes, that does profoundly affect the way I live. Yes, it gives me a deep sense of the depth of His love for me. But the focus is ultimately on Him – it’s His story, not mine.
For further reading:
God’s Big Story – the story of Scripture in a nutshell