Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reading the fine print

It’s a rare day when you find anything worthwhile in the comments section of most websites. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I once found this jewel in the comment section of an article on religious faith in America:

“People treat the Bible like a software license agreement - they just scroll to the end and click ‘I agree.’” 

Anyone who has ever installed a program on their computer has been confronted with the license agreement. Few actually take the time to read it. I know I certainly don’t. I once heard someone say that the most frequent lie told every day is “I have read and accept the terms of the license agreement.” That’s probably not too far off from the truth.

But could it be true that many people treat the Bible in the same way? Unfortunately, studies show that at least some people do. A 2008 Baylor University study revealed that something as awful as racism is actually more prevalent among people who claim to take the Bible literally than those that make no such claim. This is despite the fact that the Bible makes clear that characteristics that once divided people such as race have now been eliminated as causes for division in Jesus Christ (see Gal. 3:28). That’s just one example of people saying they believe the Bible, but failing to do what the Bible teaches. I am sure there are others.

Jesus made clear that it’s not enough to say we agree with the Bible if we don’t actually follow its teaching, saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). To do God’s will, we have to know it, which involves spending time in the scriptures. A good place to start is with Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

Why don’t you start today?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22

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