Jesus Creed

Smileys.jpgThis is what some folks want when they read the Bible: they open their Bible looking for a good word, but by “good word” they mean a daily habit of reading the Bible in search of a blessing (a quiet moment of affirmation or a flush of confidence) or a promise (God, tell me something nice and something good about me and my day). So, they read the passage with that end in view.

Let me back down one moment before I push harder: yes, God is good and God blesses us and God offers us incredible promises in the pages of the Bible. We need this; we need it daily. No, I don’t question the goodness of God but I question the goodness of reading the Bible habitually in search of a promise or a blessing. Here’s why, and I address this in The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

Question: What do you think of the Smiley Face approach to Bible reading? Do you see problems? What kind of problems?

First, God tends to become our servant and our need provider and the Great Big Blesser. In other words, this approach to Bible reading tends to see God as One who makes us happy. This short circuits the fuller approach to Bible reading.

Second, this tends to turn the Bible into verses and lines and statements instead of a coherent narrative that begins with creation and leads us to Christ. I don’t believe it is enough to read passages of the Bible in search of a blessing or a promise. Yes, there are blessings and promises along the way — but they are part of that Story and need to be read in that context.

Third, if Thomas Jefferson cut out verses from the Bible, imagine what happens if we read the Bible as little more than blessings and promises! Whoosh, out goes Job. Whoosh, out goes Ecclesiastes. Whoosh, out goes the Exile. Whoosh, out goes the Temptation of Jesus. Whoosh, out goes all kinds of stuff.

Fourth, reading the Bible as a collection of promises and blessings turns the Bible into a Hallmark calendar of blessings and promises. The Bible is not that. It is so much more.

Finally, think of what this does to the Christian life and spirituality: it turns everything into the quest for happiness and the quest for inner contentment and the quest for self-affirmation. Friends, God is more than your Yes-God; sometimes God is the Naysaying-God.

Frankly, some days are good and some days are bad. Some days we sin and some days we do right. And the Bible speaks to and in each of those circumstances.

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