And so we find that what many people do not want to see in the Bible is anything which directs them beyond the Bible itself. This means that, ultimately, what many of us are terrified of is that the Bible might serve its own purpose. It's almost a paradoxical thing, and it's certainly a mystical and beautiful truth to consider: We cannot see the Bible for what it is until we are willing to look beyond it, and to view it through the lens of Jesus... The scriptures guide us to Christ so that Christ can guide us through the scriptures. And we do not honor them if we refuse to allow them to accomplish that purpose.
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This is especially for anyone who has ever wondered how you can both honor the Old Testament AND honor the fact that Jesus presented a great challenge to it in how he revealed God.
If God had been perfectly depicted and known through the Old Testament, there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and make God known... So Jesus said he didn't come to abolish the Law and prophets? Yes, he did. But what he was not doing was insulating the Jews from having to approach everything they'd known in a brand new and revolutionary way...
Jesus doesn't want his friends groveling on the ground in terror, or keeping him in a distant box in a shrouded tent... He doesn't want things done the old way. Jesus wants them to get up. To be fearless. And to be with him. In The Transfiguration, we see the purpose of Moses and Elijah's final appearance: to decrease and diminish as Jesus was exalted to be heard. Jesus... would not be sharing his platform with the representatives of the Law and Prophets.
I do think the attitude many Christians take toward scripture is unhealthy. And this seems especially true of Evangelicals. I believe our assumptions and certainties concerning what we think "the Bible says" are often getting in the way of our actually seeing Jesus in what we read. I think they even get in the way of us reading the Bible honestly, contextually, and holistically - despite the praise and reverence we lavish upon its pages. I am convinced that a lot of us are more interested in our ideas about this holy book than we are the person it's meant to be pointing us to. And I think Christian culture (and Christianese) bears witness to all these things I'm saying.
I'm going to show you something that might blow your mind.
It concerns a very popular verse in the Bible, and it certainly blew my mind - even after years of knowing (and quoting) the verse, having been raised in Christian culture. It's a simple and yet very pervasive error of interpretation. A wrong understanding which has become the dominant understanding.
If you are one who knows this saying to be taken from scripture, you might be immediately defensive at the idea of me criticizing it... But let me ask you a question the people who use this phrase in sermon after sermon never ask: Is it really "scriptural" to repeat "Your works are filthy rags" in the way we do? Are you certain? Just because the phrase is in the Bible - does that mean we're using it properly or for the same reason? Is it even a correct perspective to take in holding it over the heads of others?
You may have already guessed (you're fairly clever, after all) that I don't think the answer to any of the above questions should be "yes."