Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Driving the Wrong Direction on a One Way Street

I keep having the same conversation with different people.  They ask, "What does the Bible say about __________?"  And, I'm reticent to answer this particular question--especially in the way it is often asked--because I come off sounding like your typical elite who seems only to make things worse, obfuscating what should be clearly understood.  (See?  Even the word "obfuscate" contributes to the problem.)  By the time I'm finished, my recent conversation partner has lost all interest.  Their boredom is obvious.  They stare at me with that "oh-you-really-don't-want-to-answer-this-question-because-you-like-to-make-simple-things-difficult" look I've come to recognize so well.  Their blank expression screams, "Just give me the answer, you moron."

Here's my problem:  the Bible doesn't say anything.  It must be read.  And, we all are readers.  Yet, some read more than others.  In fact, I've come to the recent conclusion that most Christ believers don't read the Bible.  They consult it.  They peek into it.  But, they don't read it.  Why?  Because to them it's boring.  It's verbose.  It's not handy.  It doesn't get to the heart of the matter soon enough.  It doesn't answer their question.  And therein lies the rub.

I think most Christ followers come to the Bible with their questions, expecting the Scriptures to serve them.  We are the masters of meaning.  We demand answers.  So, we go to the Bible to find them.  Then, one of two things usually happens:  we go to the small parts of the Bible familiar to us, the passages we love the most, and find our answers.  Or, when we can't find what we're looking for, we go to a so-called "expert" so we don't have to do the work ourselves--which leads to the second problem.

The Bible was never meant to be read that way--as a slave to the mastery of our demands for an answer.  If it were, it certainly would have been put together by God more accessibly.  Rather, the Scriptures were meant to inform our questions.  Better yet, the Bible was inspired to form our questions.  Rather than ask, "What does the Bible say about homosexuality?" it rather prods us to wonder, "Who is my neighbor?"  Indeed, one might be able to answer the first question if we were to ask the second.


Darryl Schafer said...

Spot on. As always.

Especially the crack about elitism. :/

Darryl Schafer said...

And very Barthian of you, BTW.

Darryl Schafer said...

And it just hit me how elitist my Barth comment was.

I can't win. It's a Charlie Brown kind of moment.

Robby Syler said...

There is an old blue grass gospel song "Using My Bible For a Road Map" and all jokes about male drivers aside, that's really what we want. Live our lives on our terms until...we do not know which turn to take. We don't want to be lead. Just as movies have the disclaimer " based on a true story" most Christians want just that a life that is "based on" Biblical principles. Reading the Bible and seeking God's mind and becoming a true "Christ follower" isn't compatible with "to do lists" and productivity. Which makes it extremely difficult to be "salt and light" when the only difference between us and them is that we use the Bible as a reference and they use something else. There is no fundamental difference in our heart because the Bible is kept at a distance not in our hearts.