There’s something about the way you use the bible, something about the way you use it as a tool, as a weapon, as a fulcrum, as a means, as an end, as a trump card.
There’s something about your intensity and your urgency and the way you have your eyes locked on some distant prize. There’s something about the energy you are putting into this. It’s making you frantic and in a hurry. You will not be present in a sacred moment. You will not wait. You will not keep silence. You will not admit that you are weak. You will not let things unfold.
You cannot abide, so you will not abide. You will not abide the journey. Arriving is all you want, and the bible is some kind of shortcut for you. You seem to be cutting corners and covering your tracks with memorized verses. You enter every room with a blast of pretty Jesus words and a lot of fast talking.
Somehow you have come to think that the bible is like everything else in your life. You think it is something to master and something you can own. The more you know about the bible, the more power you hope to gain. The more verses you can quote, the closer to God you hope to be.
The bible is your prop and your flag. You wave it around and make sure that it is seen. You highlight it and talk about it and make wild claims about its truth and fight over it and win with it and boast about how you believe every word of it. It is your way and your truth and your life.
Behold, your sacred battle cry: “The Word of the Lord is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
But that verse isn’t about the bible. It’s about Christ, whom you serve, and whose spirit you are called to carry in your heart. It is only He who is your way and your truth and your life.
That old man that you brushed aside? The one you called a liberal and a wishy-washy Christian? He spent the last fifty years with his hands and his heart in the pages of that sacred book. He has wept over it and searched for truth in its stories. His unanswered questions have increased every year until finally he knows nothing at all but the love of God and neighbor.
He knows something that you do not know.
Those people around the table? The ones you spoke so harshly to that night when you came upon them sharing a meal and pleasant conversation at church? You told them it was a shame when Christians gathered only to eat and talk. You dropped your big black bible on the table with a thud for emphasis. They are some of God’s oldest and wisest servants. They have prayed down the walls of prejudice and broken the strongholds of anger and pain with the prayers of their hands and feet. Their meal was a prayer, though you couldn’t hear it.
They know something that you do not know.
These people know that the bible is not a self-help book full of easy answers, but a book of stories and wisdom that is meant to lead us into relationship and worship. There are hard and fast truths in it, yes, but they are surrounded by soft truths, and slippery truths, and sometimes truths, and truths that once were true but are no longer true, and truths that are only true if you are in the right state of mind, and truths that are only true if you are not hurting someone, and truths that are true in the moment but not if you are talking about the moment, and truths that can only be lived and should never be spoken, and truths that we cannot hear, and truths that are more than we can bear.
The truths of the bible are utterly beyond anyone who seeks to own truth and who seeks truth above the Spirit of God.
The bible is not a book for those who need a weapon. It is not a book for those who know where they are going and what questions they will ask. It is not a book for those who are in a hurry and looking for the shortest route.
The bible is a book for pilgrims and wanderers. It is a book for children and for those who wish to become children again. It is a book for seekers and searchers and dreamers.
It is a book for anyone and everyone who hopes that the desires of God might be written upon their hearts.