I find a mistake we often make in the church, is that we focus too much on the Bible alone.
Now I will say this up front. I am NOT discrediting the Bible, saying we should distrust the Bible, Saying the Bible is ‘just good literature’ or any of the other arguments bouncing around that scare Christians into clinging too tightly to the Bible alone. But I do feel we have limited our perspective too much.
Many Christians live their lives as if the Bible is a window into God’s world… the only view of God that we have. People spend lifetimes peering through it. Trying to see it from every angle. Many go so far as to start drawing on the walls around the window trying to extrapolate what they can of the world from that tiny little glimmer…. But in doing this Christians often seem to forget one very important point.
We live in God’s world NOW!
God is still alive. God did not send Jesus His son and then go “Welp! See you all in a few millennia. If you want to know what to do, read my book! Bye!”
One of the biggest things that happened when Jesus came down is we were given access to the Holy Spirit. We can still talk with God. We still live in a world where God is very active in. We still live in a world where God is at work in our lives every day.
So where does the Bible stand then? What makes it so important to read in the first place?
Reality needs constants. Without constants, nothing can be true or false. Without a comparative, you will not be able to know which way to go. A skilled woodworker may be able to tell 2 feet of wood from just looking at it, but that does not mean that a measuring tape is a worthless invention.
The Bible gives us a breakdown. A guideline. A foundation for our beliefs. But a building that is just a foundation, is a fairly worthless structure that will never stand out!
Realize God will never direct you against His word, or in a warped view of His word… but also realize you are meant to live your faith in your own life and this current stage of the world as well.
Don’t lock yourselves in introspection! Jesus IS alive! Don’t you realize what that means? Not WAS alive. Not WILL BE alive. He IS alive! Now! This moment! Right here right now!
So stop looking with in. Look up! Look to him as well!
To my Christian friends: Are you serving the Bible? Are you serving Jesus? Are you serving the Spirit? Are you serving the church? Or are you serving God?
Now I’m sure at this point, some of you are asking “Wait… is this a trick question?” And congrats! It really should be one! But unfortunately, many of the Christians I meet, though they may say otherwise, focus so much one one individual factor of the above, that it affects the rest of their faith.
Those who serve the Bible are possibly one of the most common types in the Western church today (second only to those who serve the church)
If you have read my past statuses, you will know that my opinion right now is that whatever you turn to firstmost for your differentiating between good and evil, as well as for your direction and protection in life, is God to you. So as such, people who serve the Bible, simply are people who rely SOLEY on the Bible for EVERYTHING. If you were to confront them on the fact, they would tell you that they believed Jesus rose from the dead, God cares for us, we need to pray, and everything else the Bible tells them to believe, however their actions and lifestyles betray their deeper feelings as they try to force Bible verses to fit their current day problems. They skip over passages about prophesy, miracles, angels, and demons… or try to rationalize the miracles and warnings against spirits because it’s awkward to them. Though their mouths may claim to believe in the heavens and hell; their lifestyle speaks of an inability to believe in anything they cannot tangibly hold… Much like a Thomas or Saul/Paul when you think of it…
Those who serve Jesus, but not God, tend to focus only on the New Testament, and not the Old. “Red Letter Christians” if you will. The problem with this, is that these two testaments are not mutually exclusive. Much like a parent that gives a bunch of rules to their child until they are old and mature enough to understand the reasons behind them; The Old Testament gives us the context which the New Testament explains. These Christians have a tendency to be strongly supportive of “God’s Love”, yet struggle with His Awestruck Might and Power. To steal the words from CS Lewis: “Of course He’s not safe!! But he is good!”
To serve the Spirit is in many ways the foil to those who serve the Bible as each tend to use the other as a warning… causing them to cling more tightly to their cause in fear of becoming like the other. The Holy Spirit is real. Spiritual Warfare is real. Angels and Demons are real. The end times are real. To turn your back on these things is idiotic, but to fall in love with them is deadly. Even God warned about chasing after miracles as even the demons can create miracles. The biggest danger to chasing miracles over chasing God, is that there are many powers in this world… But God’s is the only power that does not come at a deadly price. Where people serve God, miraculous things WILL happen. Where miraculous things happen, there is not necessarily God! Beware of imitators and false prophets. Beware of making your focus. On miraculous works, not serving God.
Those who serve the church are possibly the largest group in western culture. They are those who fall in love with their church, their denomination, their pastor, their rituals. People who go to church because they have always gone to church. People who look to their pastor for their life goals. People who believe the stronger their church is, the stronger their faith is. People who get totally caught up in denominational debates and distracted from the actual point of their faith. The church is not your faith! The church is a collection of people who share your faith! You do not serve to keep the church going! The church keeps going so you can serve!
So what is the solution to this? Is all of Christianity just a waste with a bunch of different people with different problems? No… the problem with each of these groups is not that they believe different aspects of their faith, are important… because each of these things ARE important! They are critical to the Christian walk! The true problem is that they let these things take PRIORITY in their life… when the one who should take priority is God! And God alone!
To serve God means to read His word to know Him. To Serve God is to pray and build a relationship with Him! To serve God is to know that His son came to die for us and show us God better. To serve God is to support your fellow Christians through this struggling walk called Christianity. All of these aspects are needed in serving God… and we all do tend towards one or another.. but that’s because we were made different…. not so that we could clash or take advantage of each other… but so we could complete each other and together see more of this world than we could alone.
It is not wrong to specialize in one area or another. In spite of attending a Baptist church currently, I am far more prone to spiritual awareness than Biblical knowledge. What is wrong is to think it is alright to throw away the rest because it is more comfortable that way. What is wrong is to start relying on your strength and comfort zone over relying on God to show you His wisdom through your weaknesses. You are made for better than that! Don’t give up so easily!!
BUT! While I’ve opened up the can of dimensional worms… I’ll take the time to break into another controversial subject that tends to make my brain hurt more…. Identity…. Just who on earth are we??? What are we??
“Our identity is found in God! We are His children!” Okay yes. I know that answer. Good for you. Have a cookie. I get that response quite a lot but that is not really what I was getting to. For even in the body of God we are designed to be unique from each other in order to fulfill the broad scope needed. We are not meant to run independently but together, relying on each others’ strengths to fulfill our weaknesses. But then what exactly makes our identities?
“We are the chemicals in our bodies!” “We are the results of what those in our pasts have scarred us to be!” “We are creatures of instincts who have been tarnished by delusions of culture and society!” These are more common ones I hear the world come up with. However in this case I find the answers to be surprisingly lacking… or even in some cases saying “The sun gets hot by ice cream melting faster!”
I look at myself, and honestly… who am I? A guy who thinks too much? That is true. Someone who follows God? Well… ya I try… Someone who was outcast as a freak of nature and a monster? That is true as well…
We say “Your past does not define you!” but to tell you honestly it does affect you quite a lot. No matter where I go in life, or what I become, I will always have that darkness within me. There are memories of what I’ve done, images of what I’ve seen, doors which I had opened which can never be closed again.
I have had many a Christian tell me “Well that’s because your faith isn’t strong enough! Don’t you know God wipes you clean?” But I don’t think they quite understand what wiped clean means. I am NOT the person who I was. Nor do I ever hope to be again. But does that mean I never could? No… I am quite aware of what I am capable of… I am quite aware of how tempting it is to realize what I could accomplish if I went back to it. But I CHOOSE to follow God. My past has changed who I am, but I am free from it. Free to follow the new path God has set before me.
In the same way… Are our identities based on our knowledge and memories? It’s true that I was a much different person when I was a lot more naive. A lot more outgoing, adventuresome…. actually quite the idiot (maybe that part didn’t change) but at least I was an honest idiot 😛
But while the people who I have met in life, and the things I have learned have changed me…. can I say that THAT is what my identity is? ….No not really… because even though I couldn’t control what I learned or experienced in life… I could control how I reacted to it. And on top of that, part of who I was… something at my core… affected the way I would react.
I see it all the time in people that I meet. I meet people who are naive, people who are hurt, people who are driven, people who are hiding. There are the things they do. There are the things they try to do. There are the things they never want to do again. But at the same time there is always something else… something deeper…. a core that it is all built upon.
You could send 100 people through the exact same life trial, but there would be a variety of responses to how they reacted to it… because at their core they are different. Why do some people stand up to trials and some shirk away? Why do some people feel entitled while others just figure that is life? There are far too many variables to decide what causes this and what doesn’t….. but this I will say… no matter how much someone changes, reacts, grows, breaks, or more…. there is always SOMETHING about them that will always remain themselves.
Identity is deep… it’s depth goes far beyond what I can seem to comprehend. But I think (especially now) it is important to at least think about. How many world issues now a days rely on identity. The idea of claiming your identity, protecting your identity, not having your identity abused, knowing what you are able to do, not able to do. Where you need to grow, where you need to let go. Identity is a massive topic and I can’t even scratch the surface…. I do believe it goes far beyond our bodies and into our very souls.
This world says your body controls your identity… I say it’s the reverse. While I’m sure a person in pain may be grumpier or less likely to take risky moves than a person not in pain (I can attest) Or someone who can’t think clearly may not use their head as much as someone who can’t NOT think… I do believe there is a HUGE area that people overlook…. the power our identity has over our bodies themselves…. Sugar pills… the placebo effect…. What we believe, what we strive for, what we see ourselves as… our bodies to some extent begin to react to that.
Now I mean there is a limit… believe me… I hit it and it wasn’t pretty…. But at the same time, I think this has a bigger effect on our world than we give it credit for
Reality is like a slight of hand magic trick.
You can spend months wracking your brain over how it works, but then the moment you learn the trick, it takes only a few seconds to explain.
In the same way, in reality, we wonder how things work. Why things are the way we are. We ponder and mull over terms for hours, days, months, and years… but when we finally come across an answer, we realize how stupidly simple it was all along. In fact, even a child could understand it if they knew the answer.
With each answer we gain however, new questions appear as other questions in life are affected by each answer we gain. The more answers we see, the broader our scope of the big picture we can see as each puzzle piece we gain fits in a variety of places. This is how we grow, by building one piece on top of another, and letting our understanding of the world grow broader and broader.
The answers we gain we then teach to our children, and to students in school. They are given the collection of answers we struggled through life to gain so that they can start with a far larger picture than we started with, and can hopefully go farther than we were able to.
But realize that giving the answers alone is not enough to help you move forward in life. If you catch on that a magician draws your attention to his right hand to hide the object in his left, all he has to do is draw your attention to the left hand to bring back the illusion again.
If we are satisfied to simply learning the answers those who came before us have discovered, we will be stuck as a world, unable to move forward, and potentially sliding backwards. We learn through the trials of discovery even more than through the discovery of answers.
To KNOW how a trick is done, and to be able to UNDERSTAND how a trick works are two very different things. In the same way, the ability to KNOW what those before us have discovered throughout their lives, and to be able to UNDERSTAND how they got there and why they think that way are two very different things that hold an important distinction.
If you spend your life thinking that “Being smart” is simply being able to catch up with the information that those who came before us learned, you misunderstand the purpose of knowledge. We learn what was discovered before us, not so that we will be able to live our lives without thinking ourselves, but instead so that we have a head start allowing us to move farther ahead than we could have without.
Remember, those who came before us did not know everything, and you do not know everything as well! Reality is vast and our perceptions of it so small. Don’t rely solely on what others have accomplished to find your path forward. You have the ability to observe yourself! Use that ability to observe the world around you and start to uncloud the parts of the world we have yet to discover!