In today’s climate, there appears to be a lot of emphasis on “what the Bible says.”
There are a lot of things that the Bible says…in fact, as we’ve discovered in the past, it is possible to “prove” almost anything from the Bible. We’ve done that with slavery…with the right of humans to dominate the earth…with male dominance in male/female relationships…to deny the validity of same-sex relationships…. There are probably other topics you could come up yourself.
However, if we want to be true to “what the Bible says,” I think it might help us to revisit what a couple of significant people have said about the Bible–and how to read it.
The first one is Jesus…the focus of much of what the Bible says. He spoke about a lot of different things, but what I think is important when we think about what the Bible says came when he was asked what the greatest commandment was. According to Matthew 22:37-40 (The Message translation), he said this:
…“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Hmmm…everything in the Law and the Prophets? According to Jesus…yes.
The second person is John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. He felt the Bible was absolutely an essential book to read…but not necessarily literally. He was aware that there were some things in the Bible that spoke to people more than others. For him, the theology found in 1 John, especially 1 John 4:19 was the central message:
“We love [God] because he first loved us.”
He felt that it was vital to read the Bible through the lens of love.
So what would happen if we did?
It would certainly challenge us!
But maybe…just maybe…that’s what the world needs today…a people who truly live and see life through the lens of God’s love–towards all of God’s creation.
Maybe…just maybe…that’s what it will take for God’s peaceable kingdom to become a reality…if there are enough of us willing to take that risk.