Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
– Psalm 119:105
Church newsletter column for October, 2016.
Have you ever sat down and read the Bible? How did you do it? Starting at the beginning seems natural, but if you start reading from Genesis 1, you’re likely to get bogged down after the first few chapters.
Or you could try reading the Bible by opening it to a random page. After all, any part of God’s word has to be good, right? I heard about someone who tried that, and he happened to open first to Matthew 27:5, where he read, “Judas went and hanged himself.”
Wanting to read something more cheerful, he tried it again, opening to Luke 10:37, “Go and do likewise.” Figuring he’d give it one more shot, he opened his Bible one more time, and saw John 13:27, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”
Randomly opening your Bible is probably not the best way to approach God’s word!
This year in confirmation class, we’re looking at the grand narrative of the Bible. Many of us (myself included!) are more familiar with individual Biblical stories than with the Bible’s overarching story.
In Sunday School, we learn self-contained stories, like Noah’s ark, Jesus feeding the five thousand, Daniel in the lion’s den, and David and Goliath, but we don’t often consider how all these stories connect together. Weekly church readings sometimes make it worse. This fall, our weekly readings are from Luke’s gospel, but they skip around and it can be hard to see how they fit together from week to week.
Although it’s written over a period of about 1500 years, by around 40 different authors, the Bible has an overarching story. First, God creates the world, then humans rebel against their Creator. For the rest of the story, God seeks to rebuild the relationship that humanity’s rebellious sin destroyed. Eventually, God succeeds by personally becoming human, in Jesus Christ.
The whole Bible points to Christ. Martin Luther once wrote, “The Bible is the cradle wherein Christ is laid.” When you read the Bible (and I hope you do!), I’d suggest starting with one of the four gospels, the stories directly about Jesus.
When you read Bible stories, or hear readings in church, look for how they point to Christ, to God the creator coming to be with the creation. And look for how we fit in as well, because God’s story isn’t over yet!