In the old days, you needed a map to get somewhere, and in using that map, you learned the basic geographical layout of where you were and where you were going. This meant, in my experience, that a good local map helped you learn a new area when you moved there, something I’ve done about 4 or 5 times in my adult life.
But I moved to a new town this year, and for the first time, I don’t have one of those cool local map books. I have a GPS.
What happens? I don’t know how to get anywhere, I never know where I am… I only know how to follow directions to get to the address I typed in (hopefully correctly) to the GPS. When I don’t have the GPS with me and traffic gets rerouted, I frantically call my wife on the phone because I get panicky when I’m lost and I’m a big baby behind the wheel.
It’s a little bit like how Christians sometimes “use” the Bible. As a moral or therapeutic GPS to get me somewhere… In other words, when we’re feeling down, we go to familiar passages for comfort, when we’re in an argument we go to familiar passages to make our point, when we’re trying to figure out what God’s will is for us, we go to whatever passages we think might hold those answers.
I’m pretty sure that’s not doing it right.
I think the Bible isn’t as much a set of directions to follow God’s instructions one way or another… as much as it’s a map of who God is and what God’s doing in this world… and we get to learn all about every nook and crevice, every highway and alley of what God has revealed about the Divine personality.
So, go ahead, read the easy stuff and the hard stuff… get the whole lay of the land… learn it all…