After my post last week, a friend of mine asked a few hard questions about the nature of the Bible and God. I have been wrestling with it all week. I encourage you to read the post, look at his questions and look at Allen’s response. They are really good things to think about and work through.
As I was wrestling with these ideas, I came across a podcast (because that is what I do) which helped me put some of this into perspective.
We often have extremely poor arguments for why we believe the Bible. We argue Scripture’s authenticity based on what Scripture itself says. Many have the opinion that “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” as if culture, context, and a few thousand years of human development have no affect on the words we read.
Engaging how we view and use Scripture is an extremely complicated issue, and we need to wrestle with it more.
But I think this week’s words from Jesus point us in the right direction.
I love this phrase: wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
Jesus is speaking here to two groups of people: The religious elite who had put all of these rules and regulations and heavy burdens on people who were trying to follow God. And the people who were weary and tired of these rules and regulations.
When Jesus speaks of “yoke” and “burden” he is speaking of how one interprets Scripture. The religious leaders of the day had their own ways of interpreting and using Scripture and to enter into their schools of thought was to take on their yoke.
Like many people today, the “yokes” and ways of viewing Scripture and theology and church had grown wearisome and became more about not ticking God off than living a full life.
People were worn out with the religious arguments and hoop jumping.
Maybe you are too.
So here is what Jesus says:
Try my way of doing things.
Look at my life. Look at my teaching.
Try it out. See what happens.
Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
If someone were to ask me why I believe the Bible here would be my simplest response:
Because every time I put the words and life of Jesus into practice, it leads me into a better way of living.
It is often difficult, there is pain that goes along with it. But it always leads me into something deeper and more beautiful and into better ways of being human.
The words and life of Jesus do not let me down. The wisdom of Jesus is vindicated by the results.
The ways of Jesus lead me toward peace.
The rest of the Bible is tough. I struggle with it. I have doubts and questions and sections I refuse to read and authors I don’t particularly care for.
But Jesus I get. Jesus I like. Jesus is the one who proves that all of this stuff can be trusted.
When we take on Jesus’ yoke, and we learn to read Scripture in light of Jesus, the burdens become much less heavy.
Not because Jesus’ words are easy, but because it drops so much of the baggage we attach to the Bible.
I have often discovered my issues with the Bible are often a result of how I have viewed the Bible my entire life.
I need new eyes and fresh ways of seeing things. I need the yoke of Jesus.
May we continue to be a people who struggle and wrestle with what the Bible is and says, but may we do so under the instruction, care, yoke, and peace of Jesus.
If you are interested in studying some of this deeper, here are a few resources I recommend:
Rob Bell did a series over the Bible that I thought was really good. This is Part 1. (His book Velvet Elvis is also the place I first encountered the idea of “yoke” as well.)
Steve Chalke also has a document and a movement called “Restoring Confidence in the Bible” which is an excellent resource as well (and much shorter than Rob’s. He’s also not Rob Bell so that might be a plus for some of you.). Allen is teaching a class on this at his church. So ask him all your hard questions.
In terms of reading Scripture through the lens of Jesus, these two posts provide an excellent little diagram and explanation which I find to be extremely helpful. In the past, I have seen Greg add another circle for the Bible between the cross and dogma to talk about viewing all of Scripture through the lens of Christ. Greg is a great place to start when you have tough questions about the Bible.