The Bible Doesn't Apply to Your Life

So stop trying to make it about you.

There are two common but terrible methods for studying the Bible: topical and verse-by-verse.

Topical Bible studies are usually a collection of verses and passages ripped out of their original contexts and arranged according to some irrelevant, Western gimmick like characters, virtues, or targeted demographic themes.

Verse-by-verse Bible studies tend to work through entire books in a painfully over-engineered fashion to the point where life applications are extracted through a hunt-and-peck assortment of morphemes and other abused word parts.

Both methods couldn't be more dissimilar nor produce more polarized, self-righteous apostles, yet both fail to recognize one simple fact: the Bible was not written so that we could apply it to our lives.

The Bible is an archive of stories, letters, and other writings that show how humanity came to know God. In fact, these writings are inspired by him so that they might transcend the generations who recorded them and reach all people with his message of love and forgiveness.

In other words, the Bible is about God. And the delicious irony about that is many sermons and Bible studies are not about God at all.

They're about you. Preachers and teachers spend countless hours learning how to draw you in to their message and sending you home with a memorable soundbyte. And nine times out of ten, the takeaway is some banal behavior modification. More often than not, it's something you can do to fix yourself.

And boy do we need fixing. Pick any vice list in the Bible and you'll find yourself on it. Whether it's lust, greed, excess, or anger, you're given to something that's distracting you from God. Thankfully, we have the Bible as our guide, so overcoming those things is simply a matter of finding the right application points to try on at home.

More accurately, we have Jesus as our savior and the Spirit as our sanctifier. I suppose we could try to be better people, but the position has already been filled. We don't need to fix ourselves because that's included in the whole salvation package (it's a fabulous deal).

Our sanctification can't originate with us if our salvation originates with God. Likewise, if the Bible is about God, yet most of our Bible teachings are about us, we must be missing something.

Like other people.

The bridge between you and God is others. If the greatest commands are to love God and love others, and we love him by obeying his commands, then the way we love God is by loving people. Thus, if loving God is what saves us, then it follows that loving others is what sanctifies us.

Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus, and the only way we become more like Jesus is by obeying him. But we can't obey him in a vacuum. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, we only become better people by not trying to become better people.

Focusing on our failures isn't contrite or spiritual, it's selfish and myopic. Not only does it over-estimate our ability and rob the Spirit of his role, it distracts us from the very commands that God uses to make us like him. Being like Jesus means being selfless and we can't do that if we're more worried ourselves than others.

So you don't need a sermon to teach you about greed. You need to care more about others' needs than your own. You don't need a Bible study to teach you about anger. You need to care more about others' feelings than your own. You don't need three-step plans or seven-day fasts because Christianity is a one-step program: love people.

Trying to figure out how the Bible applies to us is a blatant disregard for its commands. When we desperately look for some arbitrary insight to make us feel like we've grown spiritually, we're missing opportunities around us. It's like begging God to enrich our faith when he's made it stupid easy to do so.

That's not to say the Bible isn't complicated or contradictory or downright convoluted at times. But as difficult as it can be to understand God, understanding his commands is not. With those commands, we apply the Bible not to our own lives but to the lives of others. And by making our Bible teachings about others, we affirm that the Bible is about God.

Because if it's solely about fixing you, you're only creating more things about yourself that will need to be fixed.

Related Posts


Like my page on Facebook for more Christian skepticism.

photo credit: User Manual [Explored] via photopin (license)


Post a Comment