Hebrews 1:1-4, John 1:1-5
Last week I mentioned that reading and studying the Bible is how we know God but that is what the Bible does. It reveals God to us. We can’t go down to the local sports bar and have a chat with someone who has met God in person, face to face. Unless you’re Moses and there’s a burning bush in your life, you haven’t met God face to face. Now then, it’s certainly true that each of us is the face of God to someone, whether we know it or not. It’s certainly true that each of us is Christ to someone, whether we know it or not. But that doesn’t mean that we are actually God or are actually Jesus. We’re just followers of Christ representing our faith on earth so that others who don’t know God can begin to see who and what God is.
For us, part of seeing who and what God is, is looking into the Bible. In the Old Testament part of the Bible we read the histories like Genesis and Exodus, we peruse the wisdom found in Proverbs and Psalms, we hear the voices of the prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. In the New Testament part of the Bible we hear the Good News of the ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the explanations from the apostle Paul and other epistle writers about what all of that Good News means for the original readers and for us.
All of this wrapped up together begins to give us a sense of who and what God is. Not entirely because we can’t begin to know and understand all there is to know and understand about God. It’s simply a starting place for us to understand God as our creator, God as our redeemer, and God as our sustainer. The Bible is THE single source for God revealed to humanity.
Now, since the very beginning of time others have claimed to be the authority on God and all kinds of information is available to learn about God. All I can say is that for the love of all that is holy please do not try to get to know God through Wikipedia or pretty much any internet search. Last week as I was writing this I googled ‘bad theology’ and was thoroughly entertained for several minutes just reading the article titles.
The theology that is online is sooooooo bad most of the time that it is literally dangerous to rely on that method of knowing God. It’s dangerous because when all is said and done what bad theology has to say about God, and our faith in God, doesn’t hold up when we need our faith the most. In our times of trouble bad theology falls apart like a cheap day old muffin you picked up from the gas station on your way to work and is just as annoying to clean up. Odds are bad theology you found online likely won’t matter tomorrow. Odds are that tomorrow is going to be a day as good as any other day. But I guarantee you that there will come a day that you’ll feel like you have nothing left except your faith in God to get you through that dark night of your soul. I’ve seen it too many times with other folks and experience it myself on occasion. I pray that when that time comes you’ve got a good, solid foundation for your faith. A foundation from God that doesn’t fall apart just when you need God the most.
It’s not that you can’t look online for answers about God and faith. You can. But first you have to read and study the Bible itself so that you have something to gauge the accuracy of what you are reading. That’s true of any source, not just on the interwebs. Including me. Get to know the basics of the Bible so that you can reasonably assess what you’re reading so you can know that when you read or hear ‘God wanted another angel’ at the death of someone you know you’re dealing with bad theology. You can know that it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that God will not give you more than you can handle. You can know that when you see a Bible for sale with a ‘signed copy’ sticker on it that something isn’t right.
Plus, there’s some pretty great stories in there. I’m pretty fond of the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac. That’s the fancy name for the time Jesus went across the see of Galilee to the region of Gerasene and healed a man possessed by a demon. The demon, having being cast out of the man and having no place to go, possesses a herd of pigs. Who, now being possessed, take a running leap off a nearby cliff. But that’s not the fun part. The fun part is Jesus being run out of town by the people who owned the pigs and are not amused by the loss of their livestock. What’s your favorite story?
There are some great stories and some great learnings about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Grab up your Bible and start reading. Tonight or tomorrow morning. Share your favorite stories with your family. Share your favorite stories with your friends. Whatever you need to do get to know the Bible. Get to know God.