By the Book

I am all for instructions.

I don’t know how to do certain things, so getting guidance from those who know how to is going to be a big help. I love the fact that people have written down those instructions and for things like cooking (which I rarely engage in) it is the difference between an appetising meal and a mess that burnt out the microwave and left both the scraps of burnt offering and you in the doghouse. (Not good memories.)

As a follower of Jesus, I am blessed with a library outlining a wide variety of text. That library includes wisdom, law, action, romance, thriller, biography, poetry, tragedy and much more. It is at my fingertips and through that I can grow in learning more about the human condition and God’s design for it.

Yet this Holy Bible is a guide to help me live by the Spirit. Living in the context of life in which not everything is by the book, though it certainly is by the Author. By not being by the book, I mean a mechanistic approach to life that sees the library as literally a set of instructions for every single thing that happens in life. Particularly by the approach of slapping scriptures together as though they’re your own jigsaw puzzle to arrange to come up with what you think God wants from you. Then once you have your puzzle sorted you impose that onto others as the way to go.

I treasure the worth of the library and I certainly see no authority beside it. It is because of that worth that I want to treat it on its own merits, not twist it to suit my own ends and then insist that others do the same. I particularly want to be faithful to what is revealed about God in that library and endeavour to be true to that revelation without getting so rigid and inflexible that I miss God for all my accumulation of word knowledge.

There is more to life than a mechanistic approach. God designed relational beings to interact with Him not just by the book, but by the heart to heart connection that the book can inform.

For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden


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