The Bible: Just a Rule Book of “Thou Shalt Nots”?


blog_intolerance_devotion_smA lot of people get hung up on what they see as the Bible’s negativity.

The Bible gets a bum rap for being “negative,” for being a bunch of rules one has to follow, if God is to be good to us. God’s Word definitely contains “Thou shalt nots,” but God’s intention is not to limit our human experience. 

Rather, God’s standards are designed to help us to make wise choices that will lead to our experiencing whole, satisfying lives. Lives that honor God. Lives that give us strength and stability in this crazy world.

If we trust God — and we must make that leap of faith, if we’re to follow Him whole-heartedly — we will trust that He has, as the Bible states in Jeremiah 29:11, plans for us that work for our good.

Even when difficult, painful things happen to us. Even when we don’t get the things we pray for. Even when it feels like God isn’t with us. If we don’t turn to scripture, to remind ourselves of God’s promises of His faithfulness and love, we can get in the destructive habit of allowing ourselves to doubt that God exists or cares. 

Do you renew your mind with scripture? Or is your Bible closed, gathering dust, because you view its contents to be likewise dry and dusty, with no application for the right now? Friends, if that’s where you are in your Christian walk, you’re missing out! I’m here to testify that if you will begin to seriously spend time meeting God in His word, He will blow you away with just how relevant His word is to modern life!

By the way, here’s what a recent study uncovered on how millennials view the Bible. (Surprise, surprise: they prefer reading it in print, rather than online!)

Slippery Slope of Self “Truth”

One has merely to observe human history to see that God is routinely pushed aside. Oh, we want His help when we’re in deep trouble. But the minute we think we’ve got life under control, we forget Him. Some never give God a chance, because they they’ve bought into the lie that they have no need of a creator or savior.

While Christianity still exerts influence on modern society, postmodernism has definitely become entrenched in our thinking. Postmodernism teaches that words hold no “universal truths” — so texts such as the Bible and even the Constitution — can only be viewed through the lens of each person’s subjective interpretation. In other words, personal subjectivity trumps God’s universal truths of “right” and “wrong.” Truth is not there to be discovered; truth is there to be created.

You see the slippery slope down which we’re hurtling, right? If each person gets to decide his or her own “truth,” society has moved from concrete to sand piles.

Ask a Christian couple who define “sin” by their version of truth (rather than God’s) if they’re sinning by living together and they might say, “No, because we’re monogamous!” When Christians choose to tweak God’s standards, we have to ask ourselves why. Have they been so influenced by society that they don’t realize they’re not living to God’s standards? Are they thumbing their noses at God? Or are they not actively reading God’s Word, to have an intimate familiarity with how God wants His people to live?

We have to know, for ourselves, what the Bible says. The Bible is our playbook. When we try to make plays without it, we’re out on the field making fouls. 

Stability Found in the Bible

Yes, the Bible was written thousands of years ago, to cultures completely different from our own. But because its Author is a relational God, and the Holy Spirit is actively working in us to reveal God’s truth, scripture remains relevant today. We can be confident of this for three reasons: 1) The Bible reveals universal truths that provide an accurate worldview; 2) The Bible wisely counsels us on how we are meant to live; and 3) The Bible meets us at the point of our need.

When we study and read the Bible as a worldview book, we are able to relate the great universal truths of Scripture to our everyday lives. This gives us understanding of who we are as humans in relationship to God, how to distinguish right from wrong, and how God’s way can bring resolution to the physical, relational, social, moral, ethical, economic, and environmental problems we experience in life.

I think that’s what I am most struck by today: that our God is a personal God. He’s not just a rule giver. He’s not just some distant deity who doesn’t see every aspect of my life. He’s an engaged creator who birthed each of us for specific purposes. So His word is personally relevant to me. And you.

The amazing thing about scripture is that it speaks to the human condition: our very predictable, natural drift to go our own way. Fortunately, scripture also speaks to God’s unwavering commitment to chase after us. He wants us to have a very real, very personal relationship with Him.

If you’re not reading the Word, friends, you need to. It’s that simple. If you can’t find the time for God, you will never experience God beyond a superficial level. You won’t get to the deep level of trust that will allow you to fully believe that God holds you, and everything else, in the palm of His hand. Your money troubles? The Bible speaks to them. Your temper issues? The Bible speaks to them. Your fears of abandonment? The Bible is weighty with encouragement for you. Your inability to relinquish control? The Bible will show you how, if you will only open it and let its wisdom sink into your heart and mind.

bibleHow might you engage with God via His word? What tools might you use that will help you to view the Bible as a living, breathing document with huge relevance for today? You might start with a daily devotional. Devotionals are helpful because they focus our thoughts on a particular issue in scripture.

The bible is so much more than a rule book! It’s the greatest love story ever told. It’s the story of our past and our future. And its power helps us to deal with the right here, right now. Get excited about that! Christianity will come alive for you when you start reading the Bible. You will become firmly cemented in just how crazy in love God is with you. Once you taste that truth, you’ll never again be able to settle for just a ho-hum Christian experience!

When we trust that God is working in our lives — through collaboration with our active participation — we can live in joyful expectation of what He will do for us and through us to bless others. We’re invited to participate in an intimate adventure!

Thought to Ponder

This week, take up the devotional challenge. Find a 10-minute period of time each day in which you can read your selected devotional. Then go to the bible with the devotional’s scriptures as your guide. God is able to speak through His word and address specific issues in our lives — if we will give Him the time to speak to us.

The Beauty of Intolerance by Josh and Sean McDowellThis blog post has been adapted from the book The Beauty of Intolerance, by Josh and Sean McDowell. To purchase a copy of this helpful resource, please visit our Store page.

 

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