Monday, April 23, 2012

Why Does the Bible Matter?

Questions from our Culture: Recap week 2

This season we are using some clips from science fiction television shows at Holy Cross to engage some of life's most important questions.  These questions are not only found on TV but in the Bible itself-even better-the Bible begins to lead us to some answers.  This weeks' theme comes from the cult-classic show "Firefly" which revolves a group of renegades and outcasts traveling on the edge of space to live free from a domineering central government.   One of the principal characters is a young savant named "River" who was freed from a government run research lab, in the scene below she is dialog with a pastor who is on the run for mysterious reasons.  The scene can be viewed on YouTube at the following link.  

Your Bible’s broken?

River is searching for herself,  the abuse that life has piled upon her has left her lost and confused about who she really is.   She develops a close relationship with Shepherd Book; his compassion for her leads her to want to know more about him so she finds his Bible and begins to read through it.  She concludes that the Bible is broken because it seems incompatible with a modern scientific worldview.   Shepherd finds her tearing out the pages as she tries to reconcile science and faith.  He wisely tries to change the framework of the discussion.   The Bible was not written as an abstract textbook to give answers that always make sense according to human logic; it was written by people of faith to lead others to an encounter with God.  

The Bible leads us to both a communal and personal relationship to the one who created all things and offered us salvation in Jesus.  This means that sometimes we need to just accept where people are at in their journey and simply witness why the Bible matters to us.  Asking people to accept our worldview, theology, view of scripture, or politics is not the point; the goal is for people to have their own personal relationship with the living God of Jesus Christ who is the only way, truth and life.

A Useful Gift

Paul wrote to encourage Timothy:  All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NRSV)

The simple truth is that people who already have a relationship understand why the Bible matters.  Those who have not yet had an encounter with the living God will not be able to see this as clearly yet.   Once one has a living relationship with Jesus they are able to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to be taught, reproofed, corrected and trained to live a deeper relationship.   The oft quoted passage above actually provides the corollaries to why the Bible matters, which serve the primary reason why God has given us the gift of his Word in a portable written form.  The only reason that the Bible really matters is that it gives us an encounter with God.  The Bible is a tool or a medium to put you in touch with God.  All other claims about it are secondary.

A Walk Through Scripture

On the afternoon that Jesus rose from the dead, he showed the true purpose of Scripture as he walked along the road with two of his followers who questioned what was really going on in the world.   We read in Luke: Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.  (Luke 24:27 NRSV) Jesus hears their story and introduces himself.  As the day ends the disciples find for various reasons that they want to spend more time with Jesus.  The walk continues:  But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them.  (Luke 24:29 NRSV)  This is not just some touching story,  Luke will show how people are able to come to know the living God of Jesus Christ through the witness of the Scriptures.   This is shown clearly in the reaction of the disciples when they finally recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"  (Luke 24:32 NRSV)  As they look back they realized that there was something going on that they were not even aware of- God was with them even when they seemed confused.  The scriptural witness had lead Simon and Cleopas to be introduced wonderfully anew to Jesus.   This gift of grace is why the Bible really matters to us. 

You don't fix faith; it fixes you

Like the young woman River in the show, we often try to fix our faith.  We obsess about whether or not we get it right.   But as Shepherd Book reminds her, this is not the point of faith.  The point of faith is to let it work in your heart so that it can make you right.  Faith does not begin with our actions to get it right, make it perfect, or acceptable.   Faith begins with the actions of God to save you.   This is the primary witness of the Bible.  We have a God who would do anything to heal, renew, reconcile and restore us.   This was shown by the Cross and Easter. This is made real by the Holy Spirit calling you to come and hear and read the Word, so that you may know the Word made flesh, Jesus.   The Bible offers us salvation because it has introduced us to the God who saves.   I never read the Bible in a neutral or unbiased way.   I read it to find Jesus again and again, because to know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to learn from Him.   So may you be blessed to encounter God as you read the Bible. 

Stay tuned for week 3-Why do we deserve to be saved?

Keep the Faith, 

Pastor Knecht