Today we will pick up our cross, die to ourselves and live for God by reading the Bible. Now, I know what you are thinking because I have thought the same thing. The Bible is long and boring. The Old Testament is stupid and I already know about Jesus, they read that part in church so I don’t need actually need to read it myself. Wrong! You, like me, know the Bible on the kid level. We know the stories. We know who did what as if it was an episode of Star Trek. We need to start reading the Bible like adults.
Here is where many people say that the Bible is contradictory and inaccurate. Yes, it is. No denying that. That is, if you read it on the literal, historical level, if you read it as a story. But we are called to go deeper. If we read it on the literal, historical level every parable that Jesus said is a lie. But we know that every parable that Jesus said revealed the truth even if there was no true historical Good Samaritan. So we know that we have to read the Bible for more than just literal and historical truth but all of the truth that the Bible reveals to us.
Once we know the stories we now have to read it for meaning. I am not talking about using the Bible as a book of quotable quotes – which, of course, you can. I am not talking about asking God for an answer and flipping it open and reading the passage hoping to get a yes or no about which collage to go to. I am talking about reading it as an adult. As an adult we know that God loves us. So that is the magnifying glass that we need to use in order to see the meaning. Ask yourself as you read, “Since God is Love, what does this mean?”
You see when you read the Old Testament as a story, it’s all about smiting. Someone did something terrible so let the smiting commence! But that is not how it is. God revealed Himself slowly, so that people could understand. If Jesus came and told them love their enemies right off the bat then automatically people would think that He didn’t care and wanted them all to die. Everyone at the time of Abraham was warring with everybody else and people believed that whoever had the strongest gods would live while everyone else would die. No one had a heart that was open enough to believe Jesus’ words. So God revealed Himself as a just and true God. The God that cared deeply about justice and wrong doing. The God that cared deeply for His people. Then only after people understood that God was just, could God reveal that He is also merciful. So yes in the Old Testament it says and eye for an eye – but stop there, don’t wipe out the offender’s entire family because that would not be just. Punishment to fit the crime. Then and only then could God reveal mercy. Don’t take an eye for and eye which would be a just punishment for a wrong doer, but love your enemies, be merciful and forgive – just as God has done for you. The wages of sin is death which is Just, but God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son so that who so ever believeth in Him may have eternal life is Merciful.
Peace be with you.