Dr. Janet Dean – “Directions Necessary?”
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Have you ever bought a piece of furniture which needed to be assembled once you got it home? Do you read the instructions step by step, or do you just wing it? Or, like me, do you use the instructions as a guide to be followed when they seem right and disregard them when they don’t make sense with what’s in front of you? If so, you probably have at least one lopsided bookcase. I have several.
This hodgepodge approach seems to be how many of us approach the Bible these days. We embrace what we like – “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8),” discount what we don’t like – “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (1 Thessalonians 3:10),” and ignore what we don’t understand – “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law (Romans 3:31).” In the end, we end up with lives that are mostly put together right, but just not quite.
The Bible is an instruction manual, but it’s not one of those straightforward, boring, poorly written, step-by-step guides that come with a bicycle or a Blu-ray player. No, it is designed for a much more elaborate object – a living human being. As such, it itself is complicated, intricate, inspiring, encouraging, yes, even living, and it must be understood as a whole, not just by the parts we like. If my bookcase is a bit lopsided because I skipped a few steps in the instructions, how much more will my life be askew when I disregard a few biblical passages here and there?
- Dr. Janet Dean, Assistant Professor, Behavioral Sciences