Friday, August 9, 2013

How to Find Peace and Meaning in the Bible

Don't worship it, or defend it, or make it more than it needs to be.
It's not perfect in the way many claim… because it doesn't need to be.

Simply read it prayerfully, and allow the Spirit within you to speak through it.

Accept that some things in the Bible are not accurate. Here are 3 examples:

  • The claim that Jesus is the "only way" to God. This contradicts the all-inclusive and universal nature of God's love for all humanity. It contradicts the humble and inclusive spirit of Jesus who would never make such a self promoting claim. The Bible criticizes those who say, "I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” or “I follow Peter” or “I follow Christ.” It says that "through Abraham all nations of the earth will be blessed." Jesus pointed people to an all loving God - only later did Christians change the focus to a divisive image of Jesus as "the only way to heaven." Unfortunately, it’s easier to worship Jesus and believe certain things about him, than it is to just follow him...and too many people choose the easier path. Jesus never asked to be worshiped - only to be followed.

  • The traditional concept of hell. This idea contradicts too many other truths in the Bible, especially its major teachings about God's love and God’s grace. If eternal life is a gift and God is love - as the Bible clearly teaches - how can a God of love withhold that gift from anyone?  The Bible says, "For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men." (1 Timothy 4:10). In another place, "just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people" (Romans 5:18). The Bible is not afraid of the word all. Jesus said, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Would you send any of your children to hell? Do you honestly think God loves you less than you love your children?

The ultimate salvation of all people frees us to focus on this life and all its challenges...and there are plenty:

Addictions to overcome,
Emotional and psychological wounds to heal,
Relationships to be restored,
Hurts to be forgiven,
Peace to be achieved,
Truths to learn.

A focus on this life rather than "the sweet by and by" is a very Biblical and Jesus centered focus.

  • Numerous other details about God and eternity. Biblical descriptions of God and Eternity, at best, only point to a great mystery...a mystery far beyond our ability to even begin to comprehend. The Bible says "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully..." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Live with the mystery. Trust the mystery. Have faith in the mystery.
Believe in a loving God - not a God of human design - the true God who cannot be named or even described by human beings.

The Bible is basically a love story. 

It tells of a loving God, a suffering world and a happy ending.

All we really need to know was written by the disciple who probably knew Jesus best.

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them…There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." (1 John 4:16-18)

Or as you learned as a child, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
Or this, "Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Or as Saint Paul wrote, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

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