How often should I read the bible? Daily … more than once daily … or less than that – or maybe once every few days – or once a week – or just listening to the lessons at church is enough … How much is enough – too much – not enough – when it comes to the bible and bible study and bible reflection and contemplation … just what is enough?
And the initials?
As every seasoned helpdesk staff member knows: Read The Fucking Manual!
Because the bible is taught-viewed as the Christian Manual. It is of God. By gum – it IS God – it is the Living Word!
It tells us who to love (and who not to love) – how to live a proper (and improper) life – how to walk closer with God (and how to walk away). Without reading the bible we are not proper Christians.
That’s what I was taught. I was also taught how to read the bible.
Loads of ways of reading. The r—e—a—l—l—y slow way … the dip in and out as guided way … the start at the beginning and get to the end way … the bible study notes way … the lectionary way … the closer to God way … the every way and every day way.
But always the bible.
And prayer. Always prayer as well. And commandments and imperatives. Always them as well. And context. Putting the Word in context – in language, geography and history. That brings the Bible alive! All of which takes teaching. And teachers. And work.
But when I got married and we had a child no one seemed that bothered about our “parenting knowledge”. There were loads of books we could read (or not). Loads of advice we could heed (or not). But mainly we were considered adult enough to figure out how to create AND bring up a new life ALL BY ourselves!
With hindsight I think I have a smattering of ideas that might come close. But at the time it was reactive. The books worked for an imaginary child but not our real ones.
I still remember the time, place and moment when I realised that.
And I think I have reached a similar place with bible teaching. It works for an imaginary Christian. But not a real one.
I see the church agonise over fracturing along dogmatic differences. I see Love become just a word to be defined and debated. And the result … ? “Conditional Love”.
Love that is not Love nor of the bible – but of qualified teaching – of conditions and qualifications that bind. Whereas love frees. Of conditions and qualifications that exist in a hierarchy the same as any corporate. Whereas love is blind to that stuff.
And the end result is that “RTFM” might be validated by corporate denomination and institutional faith labels – but THAT does not make it “God” (that I was taught IS the bible).
The greatest of these works for me. The greatest of these answers everything. Everything. The greatest of these IS the greatest. Of everything.
So there are “commandments and imperatives” – are these “greater” – and if so is that of God or of qualified teaching?
So there are “old covenants and new covenants” – are these “greater” – and if so is that distinction of God or of qualified teaching?
And on the same topic … Love is not four or seven words like snow is to the Eskimos – Love is Love –
And that is why it the greatest. And that is why Love should-must dictate and influence and guide everything thereafter.
So you think the sexual hard-wiring of some is a sin because “The Bible Says So” … ?
You think you can re-hard-wire that sexual hard-wiring so “they” are no longer sinners but are “right with God” … ?
You think women should do this but not that because the bible says so? You think you can find the evidence to prove your case for God?
The same God who said “You have seen it written but I say …”
The same God who said “The greatest of these is …”
So when you teach being right with God – whose God exactly?
The God you have created in your own likeness – or the God who IS Love. The God who spent three years (with a very dramatic finale) dismantling the God made in our likeness – the likeness of qualified teaching.
Love is always the answer.
That is the bible.