Over the years many words and ideas have been used as analogies for the Bible. A popular on is to call the Bible an instruction manual for life. Sounds nice right? I mean you have a problem and you just turn to the instruction manual and it tells you how to solve it. Right?
There was one episode of The Simpsons where Homer, in some sort of horrendous situation, picks up a Bible and flicks through it. Upon reaching the last page he says something like ‘There’s no answers in this book!’ Interesting. The instructional manual doesn’t have any answers.
Obviously using Homer from The Simpsons as a spiritual barometer is probably not the wisest course of action, or the best sentiment to base a blog on, but he’s sort of right. Not all of my questions are answered by the Bible, and do you know what? I’m totally fine with that.
I think describing the Bible as an instruction manual for life does a major disservice to it and is borderline dangerous. Consider the role of other instruction manuals in your life – how often do you consult them if at all? Oh sure when you first need them but after that? Isn’t a google search quicker? Do we really want to relegate the Bible to a sporadically referred to guide? I don’t know about you but I want something more.
The best description I have heard of the Bible is ‘our story’. The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with the world, and as such we can join in with it and continue the story. I don’t read the Bible to tell me how many phillips head screws I need to construct a wardrobe. I read the Bible because it is more than instructions, it’s my heritage, it tells me where I came from, it tells me who I am and it tells me where I going, and more than that it tells me how God feels about the world He so lovingly created. Maybe when we treat it like our story we will desire to read it more than we do instructions.