Scripture as Our Guide
I love to cook…sometimes. And only if I have a recipe. And a picture. And all the exact ingredients in my pantry. And maybe a video.
I need someone to tell me each step and detail because I actually can’t cook well.
Enter cookbooks, cooking shows, and YouTube videos for all us amateurs out here trying to be Julia Child in our own home kitchens. We need them so we can put something on the table that looks inviting and tastes delightful.
We need a guide to maneuver in our own kitchens.
Yes, they are our kitchens, and maybe we designed them and put the appliances and utensils in place, but most of us still lean on expert chefs to guide us when actually using the space for what it was intended for.
Why would we think and live any differently in our everyday lives? However, many of us do.
The climb of self-help books, the demand for motivational speakers, and the rise of Instagram psychology show us that we are people who long to learn how to live well. As much as we like to be seen as independent individuals who shout the phrase, “You do you!,” we also have a deep longing to be guided through life.
Many go on pilgrimages in search of the best guide that fits what they already believe or desire or for someone to tell them how to drastically change the course of their lives so they can completely change what they believe or desire. Either way, the need is the same.
Maybe you have heard Christians say the Bible is a love story for us that includes us. This is true, but scattered throughout this beautiful story of the Bible are also…
Commandments for individual and societal norms
Wisdom on relationships and work
Poems and songs to guide our emotions
Teachings on marriage and singleness
Encouragement in parenting and leadership
Prophetic words and prayers to guide our futures
Instructions for relational problems
And story upon story upon story of people who did things well and who royally messed up.
It’s all these together that help shape and guide us through life as followers of Jesus.
Scripture is way better than any self-help book or perfectly curated Instagram quote, because in scripture, there is depth. There are real people who walked real lives and dealt with real situations. Even though it was thousands of years ago in a culture we don’t know or understand, the themes and situations haven’t changed. Good principles last forever.
The truth in scripture, which we believe is God breathed, is unchanging. It can and should inform our lives as a guide still today…and every day.
Yes, reading the Bible should transform our hearts, but it should also guide us to live differently. Following the ways of Jesus because of what we read in scripture should lead us to make life choices that are outside our personal dreams or desires.
Maybe you grew up convinced you would be a famous athlete, and you trained most of your days and years, until you met Jesus and started being discipled by an older believer. You began devouring scripture and came across Jesus’ commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28:19 and couldn’t shake a nudge from the Holy Spirit to try a short-term mission trip to Brazil. You go, your heart is moved with compassion as you serve the people, much like Jesus in Matthew 9:36, and you immediately start making plans to change your life course and move overseas to serve and share the Good News.
This course change doesn’t mean God is correcting you. The dreams we start with aren’t necessarily wrong, but what happens when we submit to letting Jesus be our guide through His Word is that we give up our preferences and control. We invite His Spirit and heart to guide us, which just might lead us in an all new direction.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:22-25
For us to live with scripture as our guide, we have to spend time in it. We have to read it, study it, memorize it, wrestle with it, and trust it. And we can’t do this alone either. Scripture was originally intended to be read out loud. In Jesus’ time and in the early church, only a few people had access to the scrolls. Believers didn’t have scrolls in their back pockets like we do with our phones today (but what a sight that would have been right?!). When scripture was read aloud in a group, it was then discussed and debated, most likely challenging the hearts of hearers publicly and holding them accountable in their communities. Sometimes having all access all the time can make the Bible feel common, not Holy;However, the quote “familiarity breeds contempt” is not true in the case of scripture. The opposite is true, in fact. The more you spend time in the scriptures, the more you will love the God who inspired them.
For God’s Word is living and active (Heb 4:12); this is what makes this book uniquely different from anything else we read, listen to, or learn from. It is meant to form and shape our lives. It is meant to guide us in situations we aren’t sure how to navigate. It is meant to give us words to emotions we aren’t sure what to do with. It is meant to breathe encouragement when we are weary.
It is meant to guide our steps as we walk closer to Jesus through this life on earth.
Kind of like a good tried and true recipe.