-Dr. Jon R. Roebuck, Executive Director
The picture above this article shows my favorite Bible. It’s a leather-bound New American Standard New Testament. As you can tell, it’s been with me for a while. It has traveled the world with me. It has joined me for countless graveside services. It has stood with me in the pulpit for the better part of two decades. But, as you can tell, it’s getting a little worn and weary. Not only has most of the leather cover “given up the ghost,” but any day now, the thin threads that hold the Book of James together are going to fail. (James’ connection between faith and works might get a little disconnected!)
I have tried for a long time to replace it with a similar Bible. This particular edition went out of print a long time ago. I like the size, the feel of leather in my hands, and the easy-to-read font. I just haven’t been able to find anything close, and believe me, I have searched. I am also a fan of the New Living Translation. Trying to find a leather-bound New Testament in that translation has proved to be quite a challenge as well. Sure, there are a lot of choices out there with plenty of colors, covers, and font choices, but so far, I can’t find the Bible I like.
A lot of people I know are struggling with the same issue, although in a different kind of way. It seems these days that a lot of people have grown uncomfortable with the Bible they once held in their hands. The pull of modern culture and the demands of being relevant have forced many to look for truth and moral direction in other places. Feeling the pressure of societal acquiescence, pluralistic thought, and even political agenda has forced many to shelve their Bibles with the thought, “It was certainly good for a while, but not anymore. It’s too outdated and too restrictive for this day and age.” I beg to differ.
What becomes outdated and out-of-touch is not the truth of Scripture, but rather our limited interpretations of it. Rather than read the Bible with fresh eyes, open minds, and compassionate hearts, we dive into the text looking for a proof text to justify some judgmental ideology, a club to beat up some wayward sinner, or a verse to help us claim moral superiority over those whose opinions and thoughts don’t align with those of our own. What we have forgotten is that we go to the Scriptures to discover the love, grace, and redemption of our Savior, not to justify our stances. It is almost as though we would rather change what the Bible says, than be changed by the Bible.
Whether I like it or not the Bible says these things: Love all of your neighbors, care for widows and orphans in their time of distress, welcome the sojourner to your land, pray for your government leaders, turn your cheek to your enemy who strikes you, pursue justice, end hatred, embrace mercy, feed the poor, clothe the naked, sell what you have and give to those in need, proclaim release to the captives, and set free those who are downtrodden. It does not say that it’s okay to sell your convictions for the sake political party alignment. It does not condone the abuse of women. It does not look the other way at crude and course conversation. It does not marginalize immigrants or promote racial superiority. It does not applaud greed. It does not celebrate infidelity. It does not give approval to deception.
So if you are looking for a Bible with which to destroy your opponents, justify hatred, sanction prejudice, or promote avarice, you won’t find it. The Bible you are looking for simply does not exist. The only one you will find will demand that you, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Maybe it is not a new Bible you need, but more time to read the old one.