Column: Obscure, Boring, Irrelevant and Confusing?

By Drew Williams

recall a time when I found the Bible to be obscure, boring, irrelevant and confusing. But then, to my great surprise, all of that changed. Let me explain…

My wife has a four-year-old Toyota. Supposing I bought her a brand-new Toyota, and this new car arrived in our driveway, and I went out and looked in the glovebox, and there I found the Toyota manual. And, I thought “Oh, that looks interesting!” and I went back into my house and I started studying it. And, I got really interested in the Toyota manual — started underlining in pen some of the exciting bits about the car! And then, maybe, I took it further! I thought “Well, you know, some of this is so good, I’m going to learn it off by heart!” So, I copied pieces of the manual and put them on the mirror so I could learn them while I was shaving each morning. And then maybe, someone might ask me to give an exposition or write a newspaper column on power assisted steering and heated seats. Perhaps I could find some other people who were interested in the Toyota manual and form a book group just for enthusiasts? And then finally, I decided to learn Japanese so I could study it in the original language! And yet all of this time the car sits in the driveway. The point of the manual is to drive the car!

The point of the Bible is to be in relationship with God through Jesus. If all we do is study it, without that relationship, then Jesus says we’re missing the point: You diligently study the Scriptures, but you’ve missed the point because you haven’t come to Me. Life, he says, is not in the book, it’s in a person. It’s in the relationship. And this is wonderful, because God’s Word helps us to experience that relationship.

The Scriptures point to Jesus as the life-giver and urge the reader to go to Him for life. John Stott wrote, “Whenever you read the Bible, I want to beg you to remember its major purpose. Scripture is the Father’s testimony to the Son. It points to Him. It says to us, ‘Go to Him in order to find life — abundant life — in Him.’ … Scripture (as [Martin] Luther used to say) is the manger or ‘cradle’ in which the infant Jesus lies. Don’t let us inspect the cradle and forget to worship the Baby.”

The Word of God has the power to pierce the darkness with a light that reveals the love and rescue that we have in Jesus Christ. This is a favorite true story told by Nicky Gumbel:

Earl Smith was a cousin of the man who started Federal Express. The family is extremely wealthy. Earl had far too much money. He had so much money that he never needed to work. So, he didn’t know really what to do with his time — and he took to drugs. He started with soft drugs, moved on to harder drugs, became addicted, and became really very sick. So much so that he ended up in hospital. In fact, he was very close to dying.

While he was lying in hospital, a friend came to visit him. He was a Christian man, and he gave Earl a New Testament. Earl was absolutely thrilled with this New Testament because the paper was so thin, and it was perfect for rolling joints! So he rolled his way through Matthew, Mark, rolled his way through Luke — and then he got to John’s Gospel, and he thought, “Well, maybe I’ll start reading it.”

And, he started reading it. And, as he read John’s Gospel he came to faith in Jesus Christ. John says about his Gospel, “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, by believing, you might have life.” (John 20:31) Earl was being looked after by a psychologist — Tommy was her name. And she was a very, very beautiful woman. Highly intelligent, very successful — she’d been a model, and she was very successful as a psychologist. And, she was treating Earl.

After Earl had come to faith in Christ and she saw what happened in his life, she said, “I just don’t understand this!” She said, “Look at you! Your life is a complete mess, and yet you’ve got this joy and this peace about you.” She said, “I don’t understand it. I’ve got everything! I’m successful and yet I feel unfulfilled.” So Earl led her to Christ. And then he married her! English Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin once said, “The Bible is a high explosive. But it works in strange ways and no living man can tell or know how that book, in its journey through the world, has startled the individual soul in ten thousand different places into a new life, a new world, a new belief, a new conception, a new faith.”

There was a time when I found the Bible obscure, boring, irrelevant and confusing. But then, to my great surprise, all of that changed. It was all about coming to know the author, God Himself. Then it came alive for me, and it has deeply touched my life. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” I found and continue to find this to be the case.

Drew Williams is Senior Pastor of Trinity Church. Visit trinitychurch.life

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