The purpose of the scriptures
The bible can be a confusing place. So many different letters and books, written by so many different people at different times in history to various groups of different people. Hundreds of thousands of written scriptures, all God breathed, yet many of them seemingly contradictory. The bible is a challenging read to say the least, and for the most part, people find their own unique perspective of who God is, what He says, and of course, what He requires from us.
This is completely understandable. Every person is different and will therefore naturally have their own unique way of looking at life and the scriptures. The problem is not so much having a different perspective of scripture, but having a “distorted” or “incomplete” view of God. Our understanding of the scriptures is directly proportional to our relationship with God. It informs and defines how we relate to Him and how we believe He relates to us. And this is why it is so important that we have the correct perspective and understanding of what it says. Because how we understand scripture ultimately defines how we see God.
For this reason, it is very important to look at scripture holistically and in context. We should not just take a piece of scripture and apply it to our life blindly (but this is what most do). We need to understand what was being said to who, why it was being said, when it was said, who wrote it, and so forth. All these elements will help us understand what God was communicating about himself, which will ultimately help us understand who He is. And better understanding who He is, helps us relate to Him better, which is ultimately His desire and the purpose of the scriptures: So we may KNOW Him!
This is important. Although the scriptures accomplish many things, its purpose is that we may KNOW Him through it. Not so much that we would obey him and do everything it says, but rather that we would get a revelation of who He is.
With that being said, many of you may look at scripture as a long line of duties. Serve me, feed my sheep, love your neighbour as yourself, follow me, do not be luke warm, and so forth. And depending on what lens you use to look at the scriptures through, this may be all you see. Expectation. Responsibility. Duty. The problem with that lens is that it ultimately results in failure, dissapointment, and guilt. The hundreds of “expectations” the Lord reveals through the scriptures are not designed to give us a list of things to do. But they are actually designed to teach us about Himself.
Here is a good example. When a man makes certain rules for his household, you get to understand what type of man he is. If he makes a rule that the family must sit around a dinner table every night when eating, it tells you that He values family time and wants to see his family grow with a healthy sense of communication and relational balance. When he makes a rule that his daughter may not date until she is 18, you can see that he loves his daughter and wants to protect her until she is ready to venture the maze of relationships. His family may sometimes break the rules that he sets, and that is ok. A loving Father does not want rule-keepers, but wives and children that love him, and desire to please him. For that reason, He does not make rules to be kept blindly – like if a his son sits at the table every night without saying a word just to keep the rule – that would be missing the point. No, he makes rules because they express his fatherhood. They reveal his love. They ensure that his wisdom and ways are established. So more than anything, they are a reflection of His character as a Father. And the same is true of the scriptures, and especially all the rules within it.
So, the scriptures can say many different things, it all depends on the lens you look through. If you want to see rules, you will see rules, probably followed with an expectation to have to fulfill them. But if you want know God, you will look at those same rules and you will see His heart and character, which will naturally be followed with a reverence and love for Him.
The beauty of this lens, is that when getting to know the Lord and falling in love with His character, you are naturally filled with a desire to please him. And this is the way He desires it. He is not interested in people that obey for the sake of obeying. He does not want your “sacrifice”. God is interested in getting to know you. He wants friends. Family members that will get to know Him and love Him back by doing things that please him. And if they do not, does He hold it against them or make them feel guilty for not doing it? No, He does not. He simply continues loving them so that by being reminded of His wonderful character they will naturally be compelled again to love Him back in the ways that He desires.
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