August 16, 2015
2 Timothy 3:14-17
John 1: 1-3, 14-18
For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at a few questions…
The answers might seem obvious…at least on the surface.
They are questions like,
“Why bother with church?”
And today’s question: “Why read the Bible?”
So “Why read the Bible…?”
If you’ve grown up reading the Bible,
you’ve probably not thought about it much…
it’s something that you just do, (or something you think you should do)!
But if you haven’t grown up reading the Bible,
it’s not really obvious in this day and age why anyone would choose to pick up a Bible…
Why read a book of which some parts were written
thousands of years ago?
Why bother with a book which contradicts itself…
Were there two pairs of animals or seven pairs of each kind in the ark?
Was Jesus crucified on the day of Passover or the day before?
Why consider a book which seems to accept the institution of slavery;
Which instructs parents to kill their disobeying children;
Which tells women to be silent in church?
Why struggle with a book which is frankly so boring in parts?
Why plod through the run-on sentences and bizarre symbolism?
Perhaps you’ve seen “The Lutheran Handbook,”
and in particular it’s listing of the 5 grossest stories in the Bible?
Great topics of conversation for dinner parties
but what benefit is it for us to read gross stories or violent stories in the Bible?
Now that I’ve fully convinced you not to read the Bible..
Let me tell you a few reasons….
why I read it, how I read it,
and why I think it continues to be on the Guinness Book of World Records list for the the best selling book of all time.
One reason I read the Bible is because
appearances aside J ….I don’t have this thing called life figured out.
I have questions and concerns about life and relationships and
the Bible helps me to know that others have asked the same questions.
It’s not that the Bible is meant to be read like a textbook…
that when we’re done reading it,
we should be able to give the answers to the questions.
The Bible reassures us that we are among billions of humans over time
Who have asked the same questions.
After my father died, I took home his Bible.
It’s the one I remember him carrying to church for Bible study class
and it’s full of articles he cut out from newspapers
and comments and questions he wrote in the margins.
I thought my father knew everything…
his Bible told me that he had questions too.
Stories in the Bible deal with the questions that human beings
have asked since the beginning of time.
Why is there evil in the world?
What happens when we die?
Is there purpose in living?
The Bible doesn’t always answer those questions directly…
But the Bible gives a framework on how to think of those questions.
The Bible says that we look at these questions from a context that
The world was created with intention;
And that we were created with purpose…
We are to love one another as we have been loved.
We were created for the sake of others.
One of the reasons I read the Bible because I sometimes forget that
I am loved and I have a purpose…
The passage from Deuteronomy that we read this morning says
that these words of Scripture are so important,
We are to fix them in our hearts and minds,
Bind them to our foreheads,
Teach them to our children
Talk about them at home, at work,
When we wake up and when we go to sleep.
A second reason I read the Bible is because it grounds me
in something larger than myself.
When I was in junior high,
52 American hostages were taken in Iran.
One of the hostages was from Malden, Massachusetts,
Where my father grew up and my grandmother lived.
It was in the newspapers and on TV day after day,
And I became anxious…wondering what I would do in a similar situation.
Somehow (I don’t remember if it was after they returned home,
Or I heard it while they were still there)…
But what I heard is that some of the hostages endured their ordeal
as they prayed psalms together that they had known by heart.
I became more worried…because I didn’t know any psalms by heart…
And I didn’t know how I’d endure if I were kidnapped.
I started to read the psalms and even memorize some.
I’ve never been kidnapped and don’t plan to be…but here’s what I’ve noticed…
When I’m in a difficult situation…
When I’m anxious or depressed or angry or lonely….
Sometimes those pieces of psalms…or other verses from Scripture come to me…
Psalm 139: Where can I go from your Spirit? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there also.
Psalm 121: I lift my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?
Psalm 23: Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff- they comfort me.
So the second reason I read the Bible is for grounding
especially during the more difficult times of life.
A third reason I read the Bible is because I want to live my life
As a follower of Jesus.
It’s rather important I think,
then to know as much as I can about him…
what he said and did.
But the Bible is more than a biography of Jesus.
It IS Jesus.
Jesus is the Word made flesh.
Jesus’ life is Scripture.
When I’m trying to figure out God,
The best revelation of God I have is Jesus.
And so I read the Bible to find out Jesus…
Jesus talked about a lot of things that are important to us today..
He talked about money; about rich and poor;
He talked about forgiveness and healing;
He talked about peace and helping others;
He taught that everyone has value;
He taught about including everyone;
He taught about God who searches after the lost, the least, and the lonely.
I read the Bible because I believe I am called
To follow the life Jesus led.
Reading the Bible makes a difference in how I use my time, talent, and treasure;
It makes a difference in where I live and how I vote
and who I know and whom I try to get to know.
I read the Bible because I believe that Jesus is the Word made flesh
who lived among us
and I believe God’s intention for me is to be a little more like him.
2 Timothy says that all Scripture is useful…
Martin Luther believed that …
but he didn’t teach that all Scripture was equally useful.
For Luther, Jesus as the Word made flesh is key to our understanding of the Bible.
He said that the Bible is the cradle/the manger wherein Jesus lays.
The most important task of reading Scripture,
according to Luther is to find where Jesus is there.
So when the Bible is confusing…
When there are passages in which God seems violent;
When God seems less-than-inclusive of all;
When the apostle Paul does not condemn slavery and subordinates women to men…
When I come across these passages,
I follow Luther’s advice and look for where Jesus is.
The Jesus who said “Peace be with you.”
The Jesus who defied convention and treated women with respect and included them in his band of followers.
The Jesus who taught that the banquet table is open to all and the best places are reserved for those who have been treated poorly by those in power.
There are so many other reasons to read the Bible:
- It’s good literature with beautiful poetry (Song of Songs )
- It’s a good exercise in wonder…what could that parable mean?
- It’s exciting – shipwrecks and murder!
- And it does have 5 really gross stories…
Why do you read?
Word of God.
Word of life!
Thanks be to God.