I’ve been talking about different ways our faith and practice MATTERS to us and to the world around us. Last Sunday it was IT MATTERS How We Use the Bible. You can listen to my message HERE. But I want to expand on something I said in that sermon. It’s an idea that I believe will transform how you read and approach the Bible.
Remember the 1984 movie, The Neverending Story? It’s about a “troubled boy” who “dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book,” as iMDB puts it.
I love that premise, because how we use the Bible is more like that – more like entering a world created by a book – than it is like consulting an encyclopedia. Or studying a textbook. Or reading the “Owner’s Manual.”
Think of it like this. The Bible tells the (neverending) story of God’s fierce love for the world and the people who inhabit it, and how God expresses this love by winning the world back from the malevolent forces that are devouring God’s good creation and restoring it (and us) to what we were meant to be. The Bible envisions, describes, and in a sense creates an alternative world. Its called “a new creation,” and “the Kingdom of God” and “a new heaven and a new earth.” And this alternative world – both of the Bible and created by the Bible – is often strange, confusing, mysterious, wondrous, awesome, and even scary. But exciting “far more than all we can ask or imagine”!
I want to suggest that the right way to use the Bible is to dive into it like the boy Bastian does in The Neverending Story and find yourself in a new world. And to make sense of this story world you have to explore it. You walk around in it and meet its characters and look over its vistas. You have to engage it. You even have to become a part of it.
The difference is, that unlike in the movie, we don’t become the hero of the story who saves the fantasy world we enter, and then return to our own “real” world, which is left unchanged. Instead we encounter the Hero who invites us to become part of the story. And then the Hero enters our world (through this story and with us!) and remakes it according to God’s Neverending Story.
Imagine if that happened every time you opened your Bible.