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A Book Full of Stories
By Gordon Abernethy in All Sorts
the continuing influence of the stories of the BibleA BOOK FULL OF STORIES
Have you a book on your shelf which contains over 200 stories, a book full of stories? Yes, the Bible, it contains battle stories, betrayal stories, stories about seduction and treachery in the royal court, stories about farmers and crops, healing stories, violent stories, funny and sad, criminal and miracle, death and resurrection stories. Of course there are also sections containing law, poetry, proverbs, psalms, and much more, undoubtedly you can add to the list.
To say the Bible is a story book is not far off the mark.
"God has given us a book full of stories" - you may have sung at Sunday school and you will have favourite stories you remember from then. There was usually a lesson from them but if you were like me it was the story that counted, I suppose we/I learnt something.
The Bible stories are multi-purpose, they can be used to entertain, (I'm thinking of younger days there), a means of research, a way of experiencing other people's way of living, they can even be used to base a sermon on!
It is an accumulation over a long period of time, some 1300 years, it is an archive of works written by a diverse collection of writers
Since the Bible became available to the everyday person instead of just the church leaders/clergy, it has found its way into almost every home that has bookshelves. Some people even make a living from writing books about the books in 'The Book.' The Bible continues to be a best seller, the Guinness Book of Records estimates over 5 billion copies have been sold.
Even though great numbers have been destroyed one way or another. How many homes have one or more copies on the book shelf? The eighteenth century French philosopher Voltaire was supposed to have boasted that the Bible would, for all practical purposes disappear from public life within one hundred years of his own. The Bible is still around but Voltaire's influence is disappearing.
The Bible is a record of a people, a nation, a culture, a society; the bible is a book about 'The People of God;' the Bible is a book for people, for the 'People of the Book.' It contains timeless truths, it also contains irrelevance.
We have to read it with a realistic and balanced approach to the challenges of today's way of living.
William Loader, an Australian theologian and writer presents some options for us to consider when we read/study the Scriptures. He provides some questions we could ask ourselves: "Are these the words of the Lord?" To be believed and obeyed without question. This approach implies that the words written, the instructions given are God's to be obeyed.
"Is this the word of the Lord?" to be weighed selectively. Care needs to be taken whether we weigh up the words or override them, we could be watering down rather than assessing constructively.
"In this is the word of the Lord?" To be engaged openly and perhaps critically. This approach can give full weight to all insights available to bring to bear on the interpretation, but it can leave open unselected major issues of what is deemed authoritative.
"Your word is a lamp for our feet, a light for our path." The Word meets us, challenges us and engages us, giving us the chance to be imaginative and allowing us to be free to live in such a way that our all- encompassing love is not based on adherence to instruction, but is the fruit of the Spirit which inspires us.
Eyes to see and ears hear and a tongue to speak the Word imaginatively.