Friday, August 22, 2014

Real Bibles Don't Bend

It was a few days into Vacation Bible School, and I had led my third session of the evening. My video lesson took place in the Lord’s Worker’s classroom which I delightfully shared with Brenda and Fran who prepared and served the snacks. I knew that my lesson would always take a back seat to the snack, and I was ok with that. On Sundays we serve coffee and donuts. In worship we have communion. In church, there has to be food in some form just about every time we meet. So the kids had had their snacks and their lesson, and we were just waiting for the bell to tell us to go to the sanctuary for closing activities. I was sitting in the teacher’s chair at the front of the classroom and noticed an attractive looking softbound leather Bible at the podium. I picked it up, and it opened to the first chapter of the Song of Solomon (also called the Song of Songs). I started to read it somewhat absentmindedly. It begins with “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine.” A young girl noticed what I was doing and asked: “What are you reading?” There was no way that I was going to tell her exactly what I was reading so I said, “The Bible.” “Are you sure?” she replied. “Yes, I’m sure,” I said and turned to the front of the book, pointed to the title page, and read “Holy Bible.” “What does ‘Holy’ mean? she asked. I was beginning to think that I should try to get her another snack, but I told her that “Holy” meant sacred or special. She thought for a moment and proclaimed, “That’s not the real Bible.” “Sure it is,” I said. “Nope,” she replied. “Real Bibles don’t bend.” Just then the bell was ringing to end the session. And I knew that I had probably heard the most profound and provocative thing that I would hear all week. At some level, I knew that she was referring to the fact that that particular Bible was softbound rather than hardbound. And I assumed that the Bible in her home was a hardbound one. But at another level, I knew that she had shared an important truth for all of us. And I didn’t have to dig that hard to find the treasure in her words. Many people try to manipulate the Bible to fit their own goals, agendas, and viewpoints. Rather than the Bible informing and shaping their beliefs, they already know what their beliefs are before they open their Bibles. They search for just the right verse(s) to justify their actions. They try to bend the words of scripture into the shape that works the best for them. But “Real Bibles don’t bend,” do they? The Bible does not bend but the Bible is alive. I believe that the Bible is not just a rigid set of outmoded rules but is the living Word of God which brings new life and guidance to every generation of believers. The Bible is both ancient yet fresh at the same time. The purpose of the Bible is to change us and bend us to God’s will rather than giving us ammunition to back up our own self-centered perspective. I always learn something valuable at Vacation Bible School, and it usually comes from the children. Jim


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