I have an idea. Let’s give the Bible a subtitle.
Now, before you rush to close the browser window or write a comment about my blasphemy, hear me out.
The Bible’s subtitle should read something like this: Stories About and Inspired By the Holy Trinity. Not out of jest, but to communicate from the start that the stories, poems, and letters that comprise the Bible are human. They are attempts by humans to convey the wonder that is God as they have experienced Him; with the tools and references of their time.
Still with me? Let’s dig in a bit.
The comparisons in the Bible can be full of hyperbole and exaggeration from time to time and this can seem unsettling to a reader living thousands of years in the future from the writer. This is why so many people tend to cherry pick the passages from the Bible that they use in their lives. There are many stories that simply do not apply in our time that were culturally normal at the time of writing. If we view the Bible as humanity’s attempt at describing something beyond words, something that is felt deep in one’s soul, something that we are all seeking on some level through countless means, we can find the lessons held within without focusing on whether or not the text is the literal word of God.
Whether or not Jesus is the son of God doesn’t matter if you ignore his teachings. His lessons are what hold value. Going to formal worship every week means nothing if you don’t live with the intent to help yourself and those around you. The Bible is full of stories and interactions that ask us as readers to live in a Holy way, not as an insurance policy against hell or a means to have a bigger church, but to be one thing: good.
Be good. Live in a way that others cannot help but see and copy. Cast aside greed and lust for power in exchange for peace and goodwill towards others. Encourage others to find their happiness. Help those that may be broken so one day you can receive the same help.
To make Heaven real it must be borne of human action on Earth. This is something that has taken me quite some time to understand. I have had an interesting relationship with religion and spirituality over the years. I don’t consider myself a Christian and likely never will, but I’ve found that there are helpful lessons that can be learned from the Bible. Christian and non-Christian alike can pull great meaning from these ancient words without subscribing to the dogma.
Above all my spiritual journey thus far has taught me this: all of human action is done in the quest to learn. Good or bad, humans act out of a desire to know what they didn’t before. Even something as simple as “I wonder what it would be like to have more money than Steve.” or as daunting as “I would love to know what it is like to breathe the morning air at the summit of Mount Everest.” We are a curious bunch of primates and can get lost in our own curiosity.
Allowing an honest review of different lines of thought, such as the Holy Bible, guides us further down the path of knowledge. Embrace different ideas that are good and just while discarding those that impose harm on others. Remember to be present and kind with your time on our beautiful gem as we soar through the cosmos. Live with the intent to encourage grace, peace, and love among all living things. In the end, we are all we have.
This piece was inspired by the latest book by Rob Bell; What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything
Whatever your faith (or lack thereof) this book deserves your attention. Give Rob a chance to inspire you. Check out his book here