I promise that at some point, we're going to get to the story of Haman that prompted me to even start down this road, but now that I've started this direction, I find that I keep having more to say on the fundamental idea of biblical characters and how we read our Bible stories, so here we are for a third day.
As I was writing yesterday's post, the truth about our Bible really stuck out to me; maybe by now, it's sticking out to you, too. The Bible was given to us as this double story - it is the story of God and the story of man, the story of Him and of us. It is about God's work in the world, in the kinds of lives that we live. And because of this, we have to be able to hold a certain tension with it as we read.
But most of us can't hold that kind of tension. So we read our Bible looking for the thing that we are most sure of in all the world: ourselves.
We read God's story and look for us. We read, and we think the point is to tell us more about ourselves. We read, and we look for the points God is trying to make about how we are supposed to live. Our sermons, at least for many decades now, have been targeted in on this. Our music, too, captures it. Just look at a song that I absolutely love (and I do absolutely love this song, and it is a very good song, so don't take this the wrong way - shoutout to Sanctus Real):
Give me faith like Daniel in the lions' den. Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness. Give me a heart like David; Lord, be my defense. So I can face my giants with confidence.
This is how we're reading our Bible! We're reading it looking for us, looking for the kind of faith that we're supposed to have instead of reading it looking for the One we are supposed to have faith in. We have somehow gotten to the point where we believe the Bible is God's story about us...and not about Himself!
We read the Gospels, and we talk about Mary and Martha. About Lazarus. About Zacchaeus. About Peter. About James and John, the sons of Thunder. You know the Gospel character we seem to be talking about least? Jesus. And these are supposed to be the stories about Jesus! The writers of the Gospels even told us this themselves - "this is the story of Jesus of Nazareth." Cool! But we read it like it is supposed to be the story of us.
Now, I'm being harsh. Yes. It's more complicated than this. Because as I said in the opening to this post, the Bible is, to some degree, the story of us. It is the story of men. There's a reason that God filled it with men and women just like us, men and women we can relate to, men and women He was working through. He wants us to know what faith looks like lived out. He wants us to see what kind of difference it can make in our lives to be persons of God, to be a people of God. All of that is true.
But that's not all that He wants us to see. He wants us to see who this God is - who He is - that offers us this kind of faith, this kind of life, this kind of promise. He wants us to read His stories and see Him first. To see Him being exactly who He says that He is. To see Him delivering on the promises that He makes to His people. To see Him loving His people the way He wants us to want Him to love us.
If you read the story of Daniel in the lions' den, and you don't walk away knowing that you have a God who shuts lions' mouths, you've missed the point. If you read the story of Moses in the wilderness, and you don't walk away with a deep sense of the God who promises and provides, you've missed the point. If you read the story of David and Goliath, and you don't walk away with a sense of the God who wins battles, you've missed the point.
If you read the Gospels and you don't walk away knowing the very heart and presence of Jesus, you have missed. the. point.
The Bible...is the story of God. First and foremost and forever. He has been gracious to write us into it so that we can see ourselves under His glory, but it is His story first.
We have to make sure we're reading it as such.