How we read material has a great impact on our understanding and application of it. I read history, philosophy and theology mainly. From time to time I may include other genres but not often. I’ve noticed over time that when one begins reading a book, if you start with the assumption that you will not agree, you will probably end that way. To a large extent, we find what we are looking for.
This has a great impact on our understanding and application of Scripture. To see the Bible as primarily a book of rules and regulations, makes it about as enjoyable as a shop manual for a piece of equipment. We might know what part fits here, and what connects to what, but while it may be informative, it is devoid of joy.
I’ve begun to see Scripture as the story of God as he reveals himself to his creation. Sometimes the Scripture is giving us backstory, filling us in and bringing us up to date. The account of the creation in Genesis is like this. While it answers the questions of man about “How did we get here?” (God created you for here) Or “What am I doing here?” (You are charged with taking care of all creation), it isn’t designed to answer with great detail or fine precision. God is just saying that from when time began, He has been the one of began all things, and sustains them even now.
Through the very general history of early mankind, amid all of the early stories, with the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the beginning afresh, we see the ebb and flow of humanity. As man struggles with sin, God intervenes to set things back in place.
If God was about to bless or call someone to a task, he appears benevolent. His call of Abram to begin his people is an example of that. When man has entered into sin, we might come away thinking that he is stern, strict, or exacting. Stories of the Judges, or the accounts of the kings of Israel would demonstrate this.
However, an overarching principle in each story is God taking the initiative to give us a new start. God’s love for mankind in general is so strong and deeply rooted in his character that mercy is evident on every page of Scripture.
God’s offering of Law is an effort to offer a framework for living that allows for health in relationships between us, and satisfaction within us. We are challenged to live above “simply surviving” and offered an opportunity to fulfill and enrich all who are around us.
The story of Jesus is a highlighted section of Scripture where God says, “Look at me, see me for who I am.” Unfortunately, those who held to the rulebook mentality didn’t recognize him.
We must do better.