Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
The great Mahatma Gandhi was talking to a group of missionaries one day in India. The topic moved to the subject of the Bible and Gandhi said this: You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as nothing more than a piece of literature.
Quite a challenging statement I thought. Do I really need the Bible to help me in life? After all, I can watch TV shows with Oprah and other leading lights to give me tips.
When you are considering buying a book, you usually find out who the author is. We probably all have a favourite author. Reminds me of a cartoon I heard about at a lending library. A member of the public had walked into the library and asked for a Bible. The librarian looked a bit puzzled: Bible? Never heard of it. Do you know the author’s name? Today that would not be a surprising reaction. Many people struggle to understand what the Bible is all about, whereas generations ago it was read, not only at church on Sunday, but during the week at home as well.
I’ve met people who say they won’t read the Bible because it’s too confusing, old fashioned, or not relevant to them—it doesn’t make a lot of sense. OK. But like anything that’s worth pursuing, so too is taking a few minutes talking about the Bible—God’s divine Word to us. Someone once told me, I wish it was easier to understand. Why didn’t God set out the Bible in an easy format? God’s ways are sometimes not that straightforward like doing a jigsaw puzzle.
The big story told in the Bible
I think the best way is to say this: God’s plan is to make your life an adventure. And that’s why the Bible is very much like the adventure that life is. Life is not a series of questions and answers, but a journey. And a journey only slowly unfolds. It has many twists and turns and unexpected surprises. How interesting would The Lord of the Rings be if Frodo had been able to complete his mission by answering one question or simply walking across the Shire? It is not just the destination, but the journey itself, with its hazards, setbacks, victories and discoveries, that makes Tolkien’s story so great. And it’s what makes our lives so great.
The Bible tells one big story through a series of smaller stories—kind of like chapters in a long novel. But the Bible also tells its story through poems (Psalms), wisdom sayings (Proverbs), legal documents (Leviticus, Deuteronomy), history (Judges, Joshua), letters (like Ephesians, Philippians), symbolic literature (Ezekiel, Revelation).
It’s about how God created us in his image and how we defaced that image—sinned—and how that left us lost and hopeless and doomed to destruction. It’s about how God tried to call us back from our self-centred ways through Moses and the prophets, and finally paid the penalty for our sin through Jesus’ death, so we can enjoy life with him. It’s about Christ coming again to bring history to its dramatic and amazing conclusion.
The Bible is different to any other book
God was kind of like an English teacher who gives a specific assignment and leads her students through it. God oversaw the whole process of the writing. We talk about the Bible being ‘inspired’. God worked through different people with different personalities, backgrounds, cultures and times in history to communicate the story. Because the Bible contains God’s thoughts, recorded by men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is different from any other book in the world. You will never find another book like the Bible. It has the power to change your life, from the inside out.
The Bible is full of answers about how we are to live. Hebrews 4:12 tells us: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Bible is by far the most widely and prolifically published book in all of history, making it the most accessible book in the western world. It’s also arguably one of the most controversial books ever published—like people being burned at the stake, controversial! But reading this Book will change your life—people often say they can’t remember or don’t understand what they’ve read. This may be true consciously, but studies have shown the mind absorbs a lot more than we may realise. You might as well intentionally feed your mind some inspirational and challenging content.
The Bible is filled with principles for gaining and maintaining wealth, avoiding poverty, enriching and sustaining your marriage, raising your children, avoiding troubles caused by vice, gaining and employing wisdom, exacting justice, finding redemption, and just being a better citizen. What’s interesting is how the Bible always seems to speak to the reader’s circumstances in a subtle but profound way.
Try it and see. You will be amazed and become a happier and peaceful person.