I wrote a short ‘review’ on a children’s Bible that I found to be a little harsh for the target audience. It was obviously my opinion, but I wanted other parents to know that this book jumped right into the gruesome bits of our history and for a “First Bible” I thought that was on the questionable side.
Are ALL of the old testament stories important? Yes* You see that asterisk? That is important. My son is going to start off his journey with Christ… and this might be difficult for some to understand… with Jesus. He is going to develop a personal relationship with God.
Will he learn about wandering Israelites, drowned sinners, and beheaded disciples? Of course. But those are far behind the most important messages of his eternity. First, he is learning who God is. What God does. How to pray. How God works. Etc. My whole point in the review and in my parenting opinion is that we get the cart behind the horse.
If I were to teach you about baseball, do I start with how they stitch cowhide around cork to assemble the ball? That may interest you, that may even help you in some way, but not until you have a rudimentary love for the game.
And that is where I feel this needs sharing. Do we have a fundamental love for our creator? Or do we start with the genealogy and try to work our way backwards? I think point one is that we need to make certain that we aren’t logically following human translated rules and histories.
I hope we can all see how there is a strong difference between, “I’m not supposed to do that, so I will regrettably refrain, though I would really like to do that”. And, “God made me a new person that seeks Him and His will isn’t leading me anywhere near that”. The first person follows a book while the second has a relationship with their Maker.
It’s very important that we aren’t following a set of rules, but that we actually follow the living God. What good is it to know how old Methuselah was if we have fear in our lives? How is it helpful to quote Proverbs if we are alone and hopeless? So just like my child, I want to encourage all of us to start with what is most important. Engage in a living relationship with your Father in heaven and solidify that reciprocating love before you dare venture into anything else.
This leads to point 2 (and hopefully you understand I believe that continuous study of the Bible is extremely important, it just doesn’t mean much without the Spirit that wrote it in your life. Read. Read daily. But read in a context of that real and personal relationship with God).
One individual read my short caution of the book and responded that I was in fact wrong. In a public forum they questioned my faith, called out my parenting, and said I was doing exactly what the Bible warned against.
Is this the “good news”? Is this what the world needs to see when they see “Christianity”? Are people allowed to disagree? Absolutely! Could they have disagreed with their opinion publicly? Of course! But when we judge each other… publicly… as strangers, we not only violate many of the tenants God set forth in the very Bible we were discussing, but we proclaim to the world, “This is what Jesus died for!” This is what matters! This is what is important for you to know!
Oddly, much of the world isn’t interested in debating and condemning each other over arguably insignificant details.
He could have disagreed. But he chose to judge. And this is what so many of us do when our opinions hit the open air of the internet. ‘It’s not that you have a different opinion than me, its that you are going to Hell.’ That was rarely the message of Jesus (the only one fit to sit in the judgement seat). The good news is about salvation. The great news is about forgiveness and eternal communion with God.
Freedom from debt and punishment. Undeserved grace. Love. This is the gospel. Is this the message we share? Is this what your Facebook feed is full of? Is this what Twitter and Pinterest and Slack and even you weirdos still using Myspace 😉 … is this the message you share?
It’s so terribly easy to see why the world rejects Jesus. They are rejecting us. And we are to be Jesus to this world. But who we call Jesus and who Jesus actually is gets too far apart to be recognizable at times. This isn’t my personal gripe about someone who disagreed with me on the internet. This is my plea for us to put first what matters most. God and God alone.
Some of us have God trapped in the Bible. He is locked in the stories of old and used only as a weapon against each other. ‘My God said this…’ ‘Jesus would never condone that…’ I’m not suggesting we don’t read the Bible. I’m not even insinuating we wait on reading. I’m offering that we should free Him from the shackles we place on the book and get some separation between the pages that list our history and the actual God who lives and works in this world today.
Right now we have a God who loves us and works to reach us. He paid dearly for us. If we develop that relationship as intended the next part gets much easier… to show the real Christ and His good news to the world.