Thursday, May 13, 2010

Afraid of the Bible?

Alan Knox linked to this the other day and asked the question, "Are we afraid of the Bible?" I commented that we are afraid of the Bible that teaches us what it means to follow Jesus, but we are not afraid of the Bible that we pull proof texts from in order to justify doctrine or practice.

I think the Church is afraid of the Bible. The Bible is full of things that are uncomfortable to us, things that challenge our thinking and way of life. When Jesus tells the rich young man to sell everything and follow him, we explain it away as something that was only for that particular person at that particular time (even though everything else in the Bible is a timeless truth for all people). Now I don't believe that every follower of Jesus is called to sell everything, but we are called to die to self, and there are some who God does call to sell all their stuff and give to the poor. Maybe we're afraid that someone might be us.

We're afraid of taking the Bible seriously when it tells us that Jesus is Lord.The early church fully believed that. It was what got them in trouble. They weren't persecuted because they went around telling people to say the sinner's prayer so they go to heaven when they died. They proclaimed the subversive message that the Kingdom of God was here, that Jesus was the King, not Caesar. We take the message of the Kingdom and try to make it about something that is far in the future, relegating much of Jesus' teachings in the Gospels to secondary status. Maybe we're afraid of the implications of Jesus being Lord.

We're afraid of the Bible that tells us to love God with every fiber of our being, and then to love everyone like we love ourselves, even if they are our enemies. We're afraid of the Bible that tells us that we not only are saved by grace, but that we live by grace and God loves us no matter what. We are afraid of the Bible that has things in it that don't seem to add up. We are afraid of the Bible that presents God relating to different people in different ways, rather than the one size fits all approach proclaimed from many churches.

We are afraid of the Bible because if we ever dug into it and took what it says seriously, it would change our lives. We would no longer be comfortable with our safe, manageable existence, choosing instead to follow a God who is not safe.

Who knows? It might even turn the world upside down.

No comments:

A New Morning

It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night. "I'm so cold," said Lucy. "So am I," said Susan. "Le...