I hate to disappoint you, but the Bible is not about you. Specifically, it was not written to improve the quality of your daily existence (in the way you think). It is not a spiritual handbook and it is not a guide to determining God’s will for your life. The Bible is not a story of God determining in eternity past to send His Son to earth to create a more satisfactory existence for you. But, this is usually where we take the story. We are seriously self-absorbed when it comes to our Bibles.
Who else could take the unbelievable episode of Moses and the burning bush and bend it back toward our everyday experience? Or, the life of Joseph and draw out principles for effective management? Your life and happiness are not adequate points of reference for the scope of what God has done and is doing. Neither are mine. It’s bigger than you and me.
In the Bible we are watching as redemption comes to pass on the pages of Scripture, one unbelievable event after another, eventually leading to Christ. Each page rumbles with anticipation. When you see it from here, the Bible opens up in ways you’ve never imagined. It takes off.
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to read ourselves onto the pages and into the events of Scripture. We don’t even realize we’re doing it. What’s the first question we ask of the Bible in our personal reading times or church services? “How is this relevant to me?” This is the wrong question entirely. No question could push us further from the real story. It’s very much like walking out into the night sky and assuming all the stars showed up to look at us.
When we approach the Bible this way, we can’t help but read it as if we’re the center of the biblical universe and all of its history revolves around us. When everything is read through the lens of self, self-improvement, and self-contentment, we’re destined to miss the point. But this is what we always do. Is it any wonder most Christians—even those who care deeply about the Word of God—are unable to put it all together?
Usually, biblical stories are approached as a set of isolated events with no connection to each other or to the greater redemptive plotline of the Bible. Without the real story, the events of the Bible become merely parables for better living, moral platitudes, character studies, or whatever else we can come up with. In the absence of a greater plot this is all we have. Over the years popular Christianity has practically rewritten the Bible. Our version of various events reads more like a fairy tale than God’s story.
·Eve’s decision to eat of the fruit and the subsequent disintegration of humanity becomes a lesson on the effects of negligent leadership and an absentee husband.
·Cain’s homicidal rage becomes a lesson on avoiding sibling rivalry.
·Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his only son becomes a lesson in trusting against all odds for God to provide, or how we should all surrender our children to God.
·Moses before a burning bush becomes a prototype for decision-making.
·Gideon becomes an example of how to determine the will of God.
·The prayer of Jabez becomes a lesson about expanding our personal influence.
·David’s encounter with the fighting champion of a hostile nation becomes a lesson in overcoming our greatest personal challenges (“giants”).
·Jonah, a prophet miraculously swallowed by a fish and vomited out on a specific shoreline, becomes an example of the futility of resisting God’s purpose in your life.
·Jesus’ testing in the wilderness in a template for how we resist temptation.
·The story of a caring Samaritan is a model of how we should reach out with compassion to those of other races and classes.