We recently took one of our Sunday morning meetings to look at the question 'Why Should I Bother With the Bible?'. Here is the first in a short series of blog posts summarising what was said.
Apparently there are statistics to suggest we British people are slightly more interested in questions about spirituality than we were about 15 years ago.
But while people are interested in spirituality in its widest sense, as soon as someone mentions the Bible most people switch off. Why would any modern person take the Bible seriously?
I want to suggest we should bother with the Bible because it says it has the definite answers to life's biggest questions: questions about life, death and God.
There are many different views that do the rounds on these questions. Some people believe we are here as purely an accident. In this version of 'the meaning of life' my my life has no real ultimate meaning because I’m just a collection of atoms and cells. The best I can do is invent some meaning for my life myself.
Buddhists believe in the great ‘oneness’. Islam claims that if we are obedient Muslims then hopefully Allah will let us into Paradise.
Others say they ‘just know’ there’s a heaven after we die. Their intuition tells them, they say. But others say that we die and that’s it - when we’re dead, we’re done.
I was reading on the BBC website recently about some scientists who believe we are all living in a computer simulation.
There’s hundreds of different ideas. But which are right? These are crucial questions to get right. The kinds of questions that usually pre-occupy our minds (what colour should I paint the hallway? Where should I go on holiday? What job should I go for? Who should I marry?) pale into insignificance compared to these questions.
So which of all the possible answers is right?
At this point someone will want to say that they are all true.
Christianity agrees that there is some truth in this. For example, Christians, Muslims and atheists all agree that human life is valuable.
But atheism says there is nothing when you die. Islam says you get to heaven by being a good Muslim. Christianity says you can never be good enough for God and so you need to trust Jesus to get you there through his death and resurrection on your behalf.
They aren't all the same. They disagree deeply.
So the person who says “they are all the same basically” is making an arrogant claim. They think they know better than everyone else because they say they can, somehow, see that they are all right. But they can't possibly know that - unless they were God!
So why bother with the Bible? Because it claims to have the final, true big answers to the big questions about life, death and God, answers that call boil down essentially to the person of Jesus Christ.
The Bible claims to be a word from God himself - the ultimate authority - saying what is ultimately true. And there can be no nigher authority than God.
Many people seem to think the Bible is just a spiritual pick me up for when we're feeling down. For others its a mean book dictating to me what I should do with my life.
But think like this and you underestimate the Bible. The Bible claims to have the big answers to why we are here, what we are meant to be doing now, what happens when we die, how I can get ready for when I die, how I can have proper meaning and purpose in life now.
Other ideas and religions may have glimmers of the truth, but the Bible claims that it is the truth.
This is an enormous claim! But what if it is true?
It would mean we would know the answers to the most important questions imaginable.
And imagine the peace that can give you. Imagine the comfort that can give you. Imagine the confidence that can give you. Imagine the sense of purpose in life that can give you.