April 25, 2014

The Bible Does Not a Christian Make

It's probably not shocking to you, but the Bible is not the same as Christianity, and being biblically literate is not the same as being a good Christian. The Bible is, however, a gift from God, but it is meant to be a light to guide our path--a path that can lead back to God. For us Wesleyans, that path is also known as the road to perfection.

The Bible is a light that helps us find our way; it is not the final destination. So as much as we are encouraged to read and understand the Bible, we must never be fooled into thinking that knowing the Bible means that we know all about God. Knowing is a part of faith, but practicing our faith and living in love and charity with others, whether they be God, self, family, neighbors, strangers, or enemies--that is reason for our faith. We have faith so we can love God, others, and ourself more and more deeply.

This light the Bible gives is also meant to reinforce and encourage our inner light, that place inside of us where God dwells. It seems that too many people believe "in the Bible." No, we believe in God who can, but who doesn't have to, speak to us from the Bible. The Bible is not a rule book or a book of laws. As Paul says in Romans and elsewhere, Christ has freed us from the law, which only brings death. In Christ, we are freed for joyful obedience not servitude. We abound in grace not law or even works.

Paul also wrote that Scripture was only one part of our armor. It is the sword of faith. The sword of faith, the Bible, is meant only to protect and defend us. It is not meant to be used as a weapon against others. And we are certainly never required to fall on our sword, that is, use the Bible in self-defeating or self-injuring ways. Although I have to confess that I do like to brandish and duel with my sword a little much too often.

A person once asked me if I believed in the Bible. It was a kind of "do you beat your spouse" sort of question --no good answer. I muttered something and changed the subject. But later I thought how I should have answered her and what I'd do next time someone asks. No, I don't believe in the Bible, I believe in God. There is a difference.

Grace, Kathy

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