I love the Bible. I have for as long as I can remember.
I still have the first Bible I remember receiving. It is a navy blue bonded leather King James Version. Even in a day when it was somewhat frowned upon, I personalized it by putting my Sunday school stickers on the cover. All of them have bees on them with a phrase inspired by the “be attitudes” found in Matthew 5:3-12. I’m not exactly sure what I did to earn the stickers, but it probably had something to do with answering a question about something in the Bible or reciting a memory verse.
Inside the front cover, it has my name and the name of my third-grade Sunday school teacher, Mr. Rick Sigman. I’m sure he wasn’t my first Sunday school teacher, but Mr. Sigman made knowing the Bible fun. He put a copy in my hands but also helped me put it in my head and my heart.
Throughout middle and high school, I attended what was at the time Elkhart Baptist Christian School. We had Bible class every day and chapel every Friday. While there were certainly parts of the academic experience that made the Bible less than exciting at times, I don’t ever remember a time when I felt it was a waste of my time. Bible was always my favorite subject in school.
I was always jealous of classmates and friends who had incredible memories. I was in awe of the way they could seamlessly reference Bible verses, complete with approximate location in the Bible, at a moment’s notice. I never said anything, but I always looked up to those kids.
Though my preferred translation has changed, I still love the Bible today. You may think to yourself, “You’re a pastor. You’re supposed to love the Bible.” That’s fair, but I don’t love the Bible because I’m a pastor. I became a pastor because I love the Bible.
No one would accuse me of being a traditionalist. I have several tattoos and earrings. I wear jeans with holes in them on a regular basis. My hair, what’s left of it, stands upright in a faux hawk. I don’t fit the stereotype of a “Bible Thumper,” but to some extent, that’s what I am.
Throughout my life, the Bible has been an inexhaustible wealth of wisdom, hope and stability. It has proven to be the most reliable source of information and guidance for how life should be lived and how I should interact with the world around me.
I heard a song this morning that bothered me. I’m not sure who the artist was, but one line hit me hard. He sang, “I don’t blame anyone for passing what gets sold on Sunday morning.” I want to be bothered because it’s unfairly critical of what has been offered by so many churches for so long. Unfortunately, however, it rings all too true.
That being said, the Bible isn’t what’s at issue here. It’s not that the Bible is irrelevant. It’s that all too often, we offer trite truisms of a watered-down gospel that defend our way of life rather than doing the hard work of wrestling with the truth of the Bible in an attempt to find answers for the difficult questions of the day.
The Bible is an incredibly practical book. I Peter 1:3 reads, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” The Bible shows us how to live life by showing us who God is and how he lived through the work and person of Jesus Christ.
I love the Bible today because people in my past took the time to show me how it made sense of the broken pieces of my life and world. God still speaks through the Bible. No question is too big, as uncomfortable as it may be for us to ask it.
We need to approach the Bible with boldness, believing that God will provide some clarity for the questions the world is asking today, in much the same way he has done for us in days gone by.