“You search the scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the scriptures point to me!
Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” – Jesus (John 5:39-40 NLT)
The Bible is not enough… It never has been and it never will be. The Bible is not sufficient for the Christian life.
Being a Christ-follower seems to me to be about living and loving, by the Spirit, in community, within a tradition, centered around Jesus. Somehow, in all of that, there is a “relationship with God.” See, we are not “people of the book” (the Bible)… we are “the people of God” and the book is sacred tradition for the people of God. It was written and assembled by tradition, and has been given a place of authority in various ways among various Christian traditions throughout Christian history. But I’m a little worried that some trends within the Church have given the Bible a place in the Christian life that God never intended, and it can never fill…
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees in John 5 for trying to get their “life” from the scriptures. Jesus claimed that the scriptures pointed to him and that real life was found in him, not in the scriptures. The Pharisees were the masters of applying the Bible to their lives (and everyone else’s lives too!). They were great at using the scriptures for spiritual leadership principles. They had the “answers”! But, Jesus breaks it to them… the scriptures are never the true source of life. The real answer was right in front of them.
For us today, “Getting into the word” can never be a true source of life. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read the Bible, but the Bible is not an end. The end is God. Getting the “right beliefs” or the “right principles” from the Bible will never be a true source of life, but you wouldn’t know that by walking into your local Christian bookstore. You can find plenty of Bibles that double as self-help books, complete with practical “life application” or “leadership principles” or “promises” or “Bible Answers” for all the success or problems of your life. (As if the role of the Bible in the Christian life was that!?) The Bible is not anything like a tidy “answer book”… But I’m afraid we have too many treating it as if it is, and going on about our lives forgetting God, living a rather community-less, tradition-less, Godless Christianity, in a relationship with a book, that supposedly has “all the right answers” to life’s complexities.
Who needs God if we have all “the answers” in a book? Who needs a community? Who needs a tradition? Who needs Jesus?
The Bible is important, yet it’s so insufficient.
Kirk out. :)