Rule Book or Love Letter?
I have talked with people who think that the Bible is a rule book for Christians to follow. I want to challenge you to have an open mind to the entire Bible being something totally different than a rule book by which one lives.
Yes, we see in Exudos 20 Moses was handed the Ten Commandments. We know and understand that the first 8 verses are about putting God first and then the other verses are about how to treat others.
We go into the Levitical laws, the first part about serving God, the second part health codes, the third part is about how to treat one another. God gives man these rules not for us to be hardened, rigid and legalistic. He gives them to us so we won't get hurt. Like a child who wants to touch a hot stove, we as loving parents tell our child, "Don't touch that stove or your going to get burned!" So, God gave us the law out of love for us.
So, many of the laws in the Old Testament are just plain common sense. I remember my wife telling the girls in the youth group, "You don't have to experience something to know it's stupid." The same goes for the rest of us. We don't have to experience it and thus are free from the negative consequences.
If fact, we are more free than the world because we do have that freedom from the negative consequesnces of the sins that we don't commit and the freedom from the ultimate negative consequence from any sin we do commit.
In Ecclessiastes, we see Solomon declare in 12: 13, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."
It is a respectful fear that I have towards God as he is my Father who loves me unconditionally. Listen to what Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come nor height or depth, nor any thing else in all creation shall seperate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
In the New Testament, Jesus gives us a command to love. In John 13:34, "A new commandment I give you , that you love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another." As children of God, he wants us to love each other, just like every parent wants their children to love each other and not fight, but it goes way deeper.
1 John tells us, that He is love in Ch. 3:7. In verse 20, it tells us, "If someone says, 'I love God.' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen." God want us to love each other, because God is love.
I know that we cannot keep all the commandments in the Bible. It just can't be done as Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." I John tells us in chapter 1:10, "If we say that we have not sinned , we make Him a liar, and the truth is not in us."
I believe that if you read the Bible from cover to cover, it is God love letter to us rather than a set of rules.
In the beginning, we have God creating man in his likeness. Instead of destroying man after the fall, he takes care of man. Gen. 3:21, "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin and clothed them."
After the fall, he saves Noah and his family. God shows his love for man by redeeming man again and again. He leads the Hebrews out of Egypt and feeds them. He is with them through battles.
"For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son," John 3:16. Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to die for our sins. As you read through the pages, it is inspiried with love. Going into Revelation, we find the final victory is available for those who love Him and take hold of the grace offered (Ephs 2:8-10, Acts 2:28, Gal. 5:22-25, 1 John 5:13).
The Bible is a wondrous love story of hope, forgiveness and salvation, of a God who would go to extreme measures to have a relationship with you.
So how do you view the Bible? A rule book to live by? A love letter? What is the benefit of seeing either way? why or why not? Is it wrong to see it one way or the other? Are the two mutually exclusive?
What do you think?
Share you thoughts.