A few years ago a family member told me about a great new book they read. It was by a new age/positive thinking writer. My relative said to me, “Hey, you might like his stuff too. He uses a lot of Bible verses to prove his points, but probably doesn’t interpret the Bible the same way as you, but it’s good stuff.”
This intrigued me, not sure what he meant, so I asked him for an example and he said, “Well, for example, he quotes Jesus’ words about the 10 virgins, how 5 were ready in the moment, and the other 5 were not. . . and this was about making sure you lived in the moment, to be ready to enjoy your life in the moment.”
There and then I realized something quite shocking: Anyone, really anyone, can use the Bible to prove their ideas/beliefs.
The reality is that regardless what anyone believes. Not just a Christian, but anyone at all, once they have decided upon what they believe, they could then go to the Bible and find enough Scripture references to support their beliefs.
Often when someone presents us with a theology or doctrine that directly opposes our own, we say something like, “Well then, you don’t believe the Bible!” and no matter how many Scripture verses they show us, we remain adamant they are simply avoiding the truth of the Bible.
The real truth, however, is we may be actually avoiding the uncomfortable situation of confronting our own interpretation of the Bible, and facing the facts it may be wrong. It is, after all, much easier to simply dismiss someone as not believing the Bible, then to acknowledge the Bible can be interpreted in another way, and that this way may even make a lot more sense than our own current interpretation.
Like the example in my comic above, it’s easy to quote the Bible to support our theology, and simply ignore the parts of Scripture that oppose our theology, but it’s a sad way to live out our faith, isn’t it? It takes more courage to accept that while Scripture may be God breathed, that doesn’t mean our interpretation of it is. Just because we can use some Scripture to support our belief claims, doesn’t mean that those beliefs are unquestionably true.
Sure, we can prove out theology in the Bible, but when someone shows you scripture that directly opposes your theology/doctrine, do you also give weight to it, or just ignore it?
Discovering truth is not as simple as having an idea about it, and tagging a Bible verse to the end of it. In reality, the desire to know the truth will take you beyond the Bible, it will take you all the way into the heart of God. It will depend on your walk with the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Not just the Bible you can read, but the Spirit who can lead you into all truth.
I am not suggesting to abandon the Bible. On the contrary, I am suggesting we truly appreciate it, and understand everyone has an interpretation of it, and if we want more than our interpretation to count, if we also want God’s insight and leading, then we also need to be willing to lay down our interpretations long enough for the Spirit to be able to change our direction if needed, to realign us with God’s ultimate ways, and to help us then see the Scriptures with fresh eyes.
We are called to be led by the Spirit, and to do that, sometimes it means laying down our current interpretations of Scripture long enough to let the Spirit take us on a personal tour of God’s heart and back, so when we sit back down afterwards we can see the Bible in a way we could not see it before.