“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” – John 5:39
I’ve grown to believe it is possible that a person can spend their life studying (loving) the Bible, and all the while completely miss Jesus. Would you agree? Is it possible the Bible, if read wrongly, can actually lead someone away from conforming to Jesus’ image? It happened to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, right? Are we so much more enlightened then they so as to never make the same mistake? I highly doubt it.
How often did Jesus suspend various portions of Scripture (the Old Testament in that day) for his own holy, perfect purposes? Think about the lepers he touched, the gentiles he blessed, the words he spoke, the sick he laid hands on, or the woman freed even though caught in the midst of evil? What would the “Scriptures” have suggest to do? Isolate the lepers, ignore the gentiles, love the sick from a distance, and stone the guilty. It sure seems like we Christians like those options more than the way Jesus lived. Not surprising, though, because all those things are far easier than getting into the lives, joys, and pains of people. Yet, Jesus calls us to something more.
We are called not to throw away Scripture, but to learn to read it as a means to the End, not an end in itself. What is our End? It’s conformity to Jesus’ character. We are called to love others just like the way Jesus loved others. Our hands are to be his hands. Our feet are to go where his feet went. Our words are to be seasoned with grace, truth, and love just like Jesus’ words. We are to stand and speak out for those things Jesus stood and spoke out for. And, it seems at least possible, the Bible might be at variance with that mission at times. Well, if that’s true, how would you know when Bible needs to be merely a means? Look at Jesus’ life.
The Bible never says about itself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The Bible can’t actually speak. However, the Author of the Bible can, has and does speak. Jesus alone says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” That means every possible interpretation must be laid at Jesus’ feet and compared with Jesus’ life. Only that which Jesus would say and do should remain.
After all, let us not forget that Jesus’ final speech before his Ascension included the command for his followers to go and do as Jesus did. That means knowing and love the Bible should be done not as an end, but as a means to the glorious End of knowing and loving Jesus most.