Eric's Sunday Sermon; Tell Me What The Bible Means To Me?
"What does it mean dad?"
Let us cut right to the chase. The Bible is a “to me” book. It has to speak to you. It has to mean something to you. It needs to admonish you. It needs to inspire you. Get a grip the Bible and it’s meaning is a selfish endeavor. The Bible is a book that is personal to you. If you think differently I implore you to think again.
So the Bible is not for one person to tell another person what the Bible means. I am serious as a heart attack on that issue. That is the only rule about the Bible that makes total sense and will work for anyone willing to put in the effort to become acquainted with and in love with the Bible. I put the Bible down. Because I like to pick up another of my favorite Bibles. I think independently from the Bible,,, get in trouble and come back to the Bible. The Bible to me is not a Holy Book as much as it is an old friend. But nobody else can tell me what a single passage means. That would be crazy. How does another know what the Bible means to me?
Think of this: Someone quotes one verse out of the bible and tells me what it means. They argue? And they insist on what the Bible really means to me. That is total craziness. Take a fun verse: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Cool, sounds like sound advice. But to me it leaves the end open and so I interpret it to mean; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, if you were them. You see one mother’s day my brother convinced me to go in with him and buy our mom two baseball gloves. She even used one once for fun. But we really got the gifts because that is what we would want if we were mom. Well we are not our mother. Actually I think my brother knew exactly what he was doing and it was not in love. But my brother read the Bible literally and then used that to his advantage. Not good and it taught me how to interpret the Bible for me.
I know heaven on earth.
This is one of those songs.
Preachers and Pastors.Get it out of your head now. They teach you a way of looking at Bible verses. They really are not telling you how to think. If you are turned off by preachers in general because you do not want to be told how to think, think again. Preachers spend a lot of time reading and meditating and going to school for preacher stuff and praying. They have awesome insight and are helpful if they are not thought of as someone telling us what to think about the Bible. If you have a preacher who is adamant that you see scripture exactly as she does then get a new preacher. Jesus taught in parables to teach us to think for ourselves. The cool story of the rich man asking how to get into heaven is a great example. To me he is not saying to make my wife and children live in total poverty. He is simply telling me to seek the riches of a fully spiritual life.
And woe be to the parent who insists to the child what passages mean to them. Almost all discussion of Bible should start out with “what this means to me” and then share. There is no “set in stone” correct interpretations of the Bible. It is called the “living word” for a reason and that reason is not so we walk lockstep with interpretations from 200 years ago or even yesterday by one extolling their own version of understanding. A cool part to put in right here is Jesus’s teachings. Normally when He referred to the Old Testament scripture He would phrase it like “you have heard it said that…..” He did not ever say that you are commanded by these sacrosanct words that you must. Maybe close a couple of times but never really that black and white.
What of the wonderful folks we all love and adore that are brand new born again Christians that someone has told what the Bible means to and are literally hell-bent on telling the rest of us just how on fire they are? Whoa! Amazing that in my advanced age with a few degrees from higher education and years of preaching under my belt that folk can actually look me in the face and tell me exactly what Paul means in “”or because of these great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”” Really a fellow of 19 is going to tell me what that means, when he has no thorn and is just repeating what his preacher man told him? Craziness.
Or better yet the well-schooled individual. Can quote verse after verse with accuracy and is unhappy and upset with his fellow man for being so dense. That guy is going to tell me when Jesus is returning and why and where but he is unhappy? Not going to happen and he walks not what he talks so I will turn and run. I know the bible teaches me to turn my cheek a whole bunch of times and stay put obviously to let that happen,but I am weak so I run ;-)
The canyon we were headed in to hike was a flash flood magnet.
Good enough for me!
The only real testament that we can give when it comes to the Bible is our life. I say “live like this”. No way no how do I say that with words. I say it by my life. If you want what I have then read the Bible somewhat how I do. Not completely please. Just perhaps in the same vein specially custom tailored for you. I am not old but I have been around awhile. I have bought suits off the rack and I have paid to have a Seville tailored. The ones tailored just for me make me look good, really good. The ones made for everyone make me look respectful but like everyone else. Perhaps we cannot all afford to take the time to get the Bible tailored just for us. Darn it but it is true. It takes a lot of time to read and reread the Bible and look up words and different translations and read about other people’s position on any given verse. You are busy and do not have the time. Drop down on one knee and reconsider that idea. You have years and years to do it in. The Bible is cool as it is not a read and put on the shelf notion. It lives in you if you give it a few years chance. My black leather bible is on my son’s desk. He has a reading a night to do for school and one night we read a book chapter from the Bible, fun to do.(no none of that "slewing" stuff) I have a green bible on the shelf next to my desk and a red one on my desk and several within sight in my office. I would like to tell you that today is a day of rest so I did not read a bible, but that would be a lie, reading the Bible is like rest combined with inspiration to me, it is refreshing.
Now let me go against everything I just said and tell you what to make of a Bible verse. Love your God with all your heart and soul. Cool concept. I pretended to be very upset with my son today and then we laughed. He told me that he loves Jesus more than me. I am quite certain his mother taught him that as he says he loves Jesus more than mom. But that is living. That kind of comes from the Bible but is translated in our home to mean that we got so much love that loving Jesus the most hardly takes away how much we love each other. In fact it adds to our love and makes our love stronger.
Oh I have said it before and will say it again. I am one, not a nice SOB, when it comes to certain aspects of life. I have done sinned. And I will sin again tomorrow. Fair ‘nuf. I just do not love my neighbor as well as I should and what I have gleamed from the Bible. I am a dog. But the Bible tells me that that is pretty much normal. Dang, I am not even special in my sin. God has been there and done that already with others.
Old women. I have met some real Jesus freak old ladies. They just can’t let me talk without interrupting with Amen. I suppose I preach love and love and love. They dig it. They know full well that I am a sinner and not worthy of their splendid company. But never ever have I met an octogenarian who has told me how to read and interpret the Bible except maybe to do it in love. Gramma Tam is awesome. She is old and really really loves Jesus. She is an elder in the church and a Godmother to my wife. She teaches my son about Jesus, not about Bible verses. She exudes love and walks the talk of Jesus. She quoted the Bible once to me, in Vietnamese, my Godson interpreted. Then she said in simple English “do you agree”. The verse was about loving enemies. I begged her forgiveness for I have trouble with that. She did not even waiver. She told me that I was forgiven by Him. That is Bible talk among adults.
I hope you quote the Bible. I do in my own way. I hope you know for you and yours what it means to you. I love it and I hope you respect it and the people it speaks to enough to let them hear rather than tell them what to hear. Amen