The bible is not about you

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Someone once said that all theological error begins with truth. We tend to start with something altogether biblical and rooted in scripture, and then without putting proper parameters on it, we end up with something entirely false and misleading. Take this example, we begin with the biblical truth that God is for us (Romans 8:31), constantly searching for us (2 Chronicles 16:9) and has his thoughts set on us (Jeremiah 29:11) and somewhere along the line we have become wired to see the bible in a way in which we are the center of the biblical universe.

Many of us, myself most guilty, commit this treacherous act of idolatry which robs God of his infinite worth and glory. We subconsciously read the Bible through the lens of self. ‘How does the Bible help me improve my life’ or ‘How does the Bible help me discover who I am’. Now, I am not saying it is wrong to use the bible as a means to do so, however, if this is the lens in which we see the Bible through, as a  primary source of self-improvement or contentment, we will forever miss the message of the Gospel. The issue with the seemingly harmless ideology of ‘what is so wrong with believing the bible is about me’ is that if we begin to think this way, we will proceed to make ourselves the central focus of all scripture, thus we relegate God to being side-lined, making cameo appearances from time to time.

There is a saying which you hear quite frequently, or if you grew up in a Christian household you may see on coffee mugs or on the back of T-shirts which reads ‘Jesus is my Co-pilot’. This seemingly innocent quote is in reality no further from the truth. Jesus is not your Co-pilot, in fact, Jesus is the sole captain and operator of the plane, meanwhile, we are somewhere in the rear end of the plane behind the screaming baby in the aisle seat adjacent to the toilet.

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We can read the bible in one of two ways. Firstly, we can read it as a spiritual road-map, which helps us navigate how best to live our lives, of course I am not saying it is wrong to do so, however if we read the bible in this way, we will fall into the trap of forever writing ourselves into the stories of the bible. Of course, we can use the bible in some instances as a road-map, Paul instructs us to do so in Timothy 3:16 ‘all Scripture is useful in teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness’. I am not saying that the bible doesn’t work for that purpose, what I am saying is that the ultimate goal of all scripture, the purpose of these sacred pages is to lead us to witness the supreme Glory and worth of God. Secondly, we can read the bible for what it truly is. The bible is not about how we can read these historical stories and turn them back into your daily experiences.

The bible is not a manual on how to improve your quality of living. The bible is not about how awesome you are and how you were worth dying for, the bitter truth is the exact opposite. The God-given purpose for the bible is to illustrate the ‘unsearchable riches’ of Christ (Ephesians 3:4). In case you missed the point the first time, Paul reminds us again later in Ephesians 4:8 saying ‘that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ’. The ultimate aim of all scripture, from Genesis to Revelations is simple, for God, and for God alone to be “glorified in his saints and to be marveled at long all who have believed’ (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

This should be fairly uncontroversial, this is a biblical truth proclaimed all throughout scripture, but the problem is somewhere down the line, the infectious outbreak of this self-centered gospel has continued to plague the Church. It is a false doctrine preached by Pastors and whom care more about putting butts in empty seats and selling books more than they do glorify God. This dangerous message has forced us to perform the blasphemous act of reading the Bible in such a way which spits at the face of God. How dare we primarily read the story of David and Goliath and relate this to more about me and less about God, instead of paying the story true homage. We instead understand the story to simply illustrate that there are giants in my life which I too must conquer.

David was a foreshadowing of Christ and Goliath, a representation of sin and death. As Matt Chandler alludes to, if this is true, if David is meant to portray Christ, and Goliath sin and death, then who does that make us? We are the cowering Israelites who were crying in the back praying for a savior! The story of David and Goliath isn’t a story about spiritual or physical giants in your life, it is far greater than you and me, it is a story depicting the conquering of Christ over sin and death. To write ourselves in scripture in such a way is to steal and undervalue the supreme worth and glory of God.

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In case you’re still not convinced, take the story of Joseph, it is not about how to teach us to make the best out of a bad situation, but it is instead meant to show us that Jesus is greater than Joseph, that it is Jesus whom is sat at the right hand of the King and forgives those whom sold and betrayed him. Take the story of Moses, it is not about you, it is meant to reveal to us that Jesus is true and better Moses, ” who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord who mediates a new covenant” says Tim Keller. Take the story of Job, its ultimate purpose is not to show us how we should remain faithful in the midst of suffering, but it is instead meant to show us that Jesus is the true and better Job, who is the truly innocent sufferer, who is an intercessor for His people.

Now, it is very easy to read this and say ask “so does this mean I can’t use scripture as a learning curve” or “what if scripture is meant to be interpreted in a number of ways?”. I am not saying that isn’t true, what I can say, with full confidence, and what the bible supports, is that above all over things, the supreme and overarching purpose and aim of all scripture, all 66 books, new testament and old, is to point us to the supreme worth and glory of God. It is not about you and me, it is all about Him and what He has done and what He is doing. In the books of Acts, Jesus gathers the disciples together and shows them that the entirety of the Old Testament is about him, from the Psalms to the law, from creation to the prophecies, all of them pointed at him. All roads led back to him. That is the true story, something so much greater has taken place and is taking place.

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Toye Akinoso is Vice Chair at OGGM where he looks after the 'On the Air' team which is a team which is focused on driving OGGM's online presence. Toye has been part of OGGM two years now and is an also an editor and also the producer for 'The Pulse' series.

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