I recall an incident when I was in my teens. I was at the local mall, waiting for someone to show up. I was even more insufferable back then, kind of exuding a poor attitude. Well, while I was sitting around waiting, a couple of other teen guys were giving me the stink eye. There were a couple of them, so I wasn’t going to start anything but they kept looking over, saying things to each other, typical teen guy stuff. All of a sudden, a guy named Ed that I knew walked in. Ed was a goliath, just a huge dude. Huge like NFL size. I sprang up to talk to him and when I turned the two guys were gone. Ed and I weren’t really buddies but he had served his purpose, so we exchanged “What’s up?”s and went our separate ways.
That is kind of how the Bible has often been to me. Like Ed, it was the big gun that I pulled out to back me up in a scrape. That kind of came to light for me yesterday in a conversation on facebook. What is our motivation for studying the Scriptures? What should our motivation be?
If you thumb through my Bible, you will see lots of passages underlined. Most of them have some sort of major theological applicability, 2 Cor 5:21 for example, or they are supportive of Reformed theology. I don’t have many passages underlined that deal with self-sacrifice, or service, or love, or joy. Not that I don’t read those passages but they just aren’t as handy in an argument. When I feel someone is wrong, I pull out the Bible and whack them with it! I am starting to think that study Bible are so hefty because they make more dangerous weapons that way. A thinline ESV is only going to sting a little, but an ESV Study Bible? That’s gonna leave a mark!
I need to stop doing this, reading the Bible with a self-serving agenda. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with theology. Quite the contrary, I think massive swaths of the church could do with more theology, not less. There are way too many people who have come to Christ and rarely picked up a Bible since, much less given serious consideration of theology. You betcha that studying who God is, who saved us, why He saved us and how He saved us are important. Seeing how the grand scope of salvation is weaved through the Scriptures, how the Old and the New Testaments are different and complimentary of one another is vital. I am also not saying that Reformed theology is unimportant. I am saying that studying theology for the sake of studying theology is not healthy and let’s be honest, that is exactly what a lot of us do.