What is the Bible? How does an ancient Hebrew book have anything to do with our lives in the twenty-first century?
These are fundamental questions for the church. The answer to these questions will set the trajectory for how you make decisions and practice your faith.
I raise these questions today because I will be preaching a sermon next week on the role of scripture in worship. Our summer series is called “Renewing Worship” and each week we will examine a different element of our worship services.
Fact: we read a passage or two from the Bible every week as part of our corporate worship practice.
I’d like to offer some images that I’ve created over the years that help me understand what scripture is and why it is important.
You can download this image bundle to use for your own teaching and preaching.
The Bible is a BOOKshelf
First of all, the Bible is a collection of documents, not a single book. The image below is the core image of A Cartoonist’s Guide to the Bible. I encourage you to visit that site to dig deeply into the Bible.
The Bible is an Example
Examine the image below. It depicts two very different ways to think about the purpose of the Bible. I was raised in a system that operated with the dualistic worldview. We thought of the Bible as a list of rules that we had to follow in order to insure that we would go to Heaven when we die. Paul’s letters became the new law for how to live our lives as Christians.
I have migrated, theologically, to the right hand side of the image over the past twenty years. I now understand that the Bible is a collection of documents that record how real people encountered the real God and tried to make sense out of the experience within their own context. How they applied the Good News of Jesus Christ into their contexts offers examples to us for how we can do the same within our contexts.
The Bible Points us to Jesus
I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. I believe that Jesus is the Word of God that became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. To be human is to be limited to a particular body in a particular time and space. That human doesn’t walk the Earth any more. I can’t know who Jesus of Nazareth was, what he taught, and why it matters without the Bible.
The Bible is Meditation Literature
The Bible was designed to be read in community, over and over again. It doesn’t offer a scientific explanation for all the mysteries of the universe. It offers a communal space in which we can encounter the Word of God in, behind, before, under, through, and with the text. God speaks always, in everything. The Bible offers us a unifying touchpoint across the generations that both grounds us in an historical story, and opens us to the dynamic Spirit of God, breathing fresh life into our particular contexts.
It is alive and the Spirit continues to lead us into God’s preferred and promised future.
The Hebrew word translated meditate is hagah. It literally means to mutter or growl. It has the image of the cow chewing the cud. We take in the words, then we slowly, contemplatively chew on them the rest of the day.
I hope you found this short introduction to the Bible helpful. I have dedicated my life to creating visual resources to help people learn the scripture so that they can grow deeper in the love of God for the sake of the world.
Explore Every Book of the Bible
Find cartoons, illustrations, videos, commentaries, and other helpful information about every book of the Bible.