Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How Big is Your Bible?

When we got married one of our wedding presents was a big Bible. I am talking huge here. It was from my wife's uncle and we think he intended it as a coffee table book or a family record keeper. It had a family tree in the front of it. Needless to say, we never used it. It was way too big to lug around and it was not very comfortable to hold on your lap. As big as it was, it was not useful. Most of our Bibles are not that big. In fact, most of our Bibles are pretty small when you consider how much of them we use. We have favorite verses or books or a Testament that we prefer. Usually that is the New Testament. We have this strange love-hate relationship with the Old Testament. We love the Bible but we don't like the Old Testament very much. It is filled with strange names, places, customs and laws. God seems a lot different from the Jesus we find in the New Testament. So we mostly don't read it very much.

If it was announced that an archaeological research team had just discovered the personal library of Jesus Christ imagine what a buzz that would create. A museum would no doubt be built to house it and Christians from all over the world would make pilgrimages to visit it. What would it be like to hold onto a book that Jesus held onto? Of course, we can and we do. The Bible Jesus used is the same one we have today. We have his personal library nicely bound for us many different editions.

He talks about his Bible in Matthew 5:17-20. He says there he did not come to do away with the Old Testament but to fulfill it. He takes a very high view of Scripture here and commands us to do the same. For us that means to love and use the Old Testament the way he did.

That does not change the fact that the Old Testament is strange to our ears. But it can become more familiar as we expose ourselves to it more and more. There are many good study Bibles available today that have extensive notes in the margins that cover much of the distance we feel between ourselves and the Old Testament.

We would like to have Jesus apart from the Bible. We want to love him and follow him without being bogged down by a big book. But this book was so important to him: not one letter or pen stroke did he overlook. There was a group of Christians in Germany just prior to World War Two who decided they wanted to have Jesus but not the Old Testament. Look at the Jesus they came up with. To know Jesus, to understand more of him, to love him we have to love his Bible and live it.

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