While participating in a facebook debate with a friend who is wrestling with the question "what percentage of the Old Testament do I believe?" my thoughts developed through the following which I share with you below:
What really really matters about being a Christian? What matters about it to you, personally?
I remember Pastor Marlo sharing in chapel one time many many years ago that his grandfather would say that he was a solid Christian, but that even if it was all a hoax, even if everything we believe isn't real (if God does not exist, if Jesus wasn't who we think He was), the fact in our present lives is that the Christian life works.
There are so many things we can not prove. But we can be Christians, as Christ taught us to be. And you know what that will bring us? Purpose. Fulfillment. A moral code. Love. Grounding / stability. A good life.
There are so many facets & perspectives with which to take this debate. Here's my 2 cents relating to my own worklife. When I have a $0.02 discrepancy in a bookkeeping project I'm working on, I do not spend 7 hours of my time ($245.00 of my client's money) trying to find that 2 cents. I write it off to office supplies and keep going.
Another way to look at it... When trying to determine what kind of forest you are walking in, do you analyze the weeds? Or the candy wrapper that somebody dropped on the trail?
The Bible was not written in code, in tiny small details making up some cosmic intricate puzzle. The Bible was written as big ideas, by many people all experiencing God's big ideas. Do you ever try to tell a story, and somebody gets hung up on some small detail that you mentioned in your story but really you know that that small detail is irrelevant to the point of your story? Isn't that the most annoying experience?
Do you try to take a cookie apart & eat it as it's separate ingredients? Here's a cup of flour - eat it. Here's a cup of sugar - eat it. Here's a couple eggs, raw, - eat them.
Are you trying to see the big picture of the Bible?
The Bible was written by specific people at specific points in time to convey specific messages. A little research can reveal that day's customs, culture, history, setting, etc., and can shed SO MUCH light on the "big picture" of the book you are reading (book meaning, one of the 66 books of the Bible).
Ok, and then digest this thought…
What if the entire Bible, the 66 books, orchestrated by God, is actually altogether a representation of a Big Picture idea, to be conveyed to us by God Himself?
Seriously… What is the Old Testament? It is the Love Story of God to His people. It is the story of the Israelites, the people chosen by God. The people who time and time again rejected God, spat in His fact. Time and time again, the Israelites worshipped idols, committed sins of all sorts, did their own thing. And time and time again, God sent prophets after them, wooing them back, pleading “Please, my people, come back to me, I just want you back….” The Old Testament is a history over how many thousands of years, the Love Story of a God wooing His people, and His people not staying by Him, He then stepped up to the plate Himself (in the New Testament) and made a way to He Himself fulfill the sacrifices allowing for intimacy with His people. That they, and everyone, would no longer have to sacrifice blood to be right with God, but that simply by acknowledging His sacrifice, we may partake in it.
And then in that, we may experience God.
And how cool is that?
And so I ask again… What is really important? Is the stress/nervous energies of picking apart the wording or cultural choices of that day in age, or picking apart different supplementary stories (that are simply all a part of a Big Picture), worth it?
Please do not misunderstand me. I am all about studying the Bible. But I am asking you to put it in perspective – you need to aim to grasp the Big Picture, before the thoughts you have about the details can hold any truth.