Every Christian I know would affirm that the Bible is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. Strangely, many seem to think it is as cold as one too. How often the Bible is treated as a cold set of sharp propositions, a repository of truth statements that are precise and sharp, but cold as steel.
On Saturday at the Discover Cor Deo event (which went very well, by the way), I used a passing reference to thermal imaging cameras. You know the ones used from Police helicopters when following a living suspect who runs and hides behind a shed or in a bush. Everything else is stone cold grey or blue, but there is that glowing red and orange of a living being hiding in that bush. To normal eyes that bush looks like any other, but through thermal imaging it is living, glowing, vivid.
If we were to take a thermal imaging camera and look at the pages of Scripture, what would we see? The grey/blue cold, or the living, glowing, vivid red/orange of life?
This is a question I would like to ask some preachers who seem adept at turning the text of the Bible into a cold set of distant truths and then take their thirty or forty minutes to try to freeze the hearts of their listeners with their stormy blast. It is a question we all need to answer as Bible readers – are we alert to the red/orange vitality and warmth in the Bible? To normal eyes it looks as dead as any other book, but through the lens of a sensitized heart it is living, glowing, vivid.
Why is the Bible not merely a repository of cold truth statements? Because human realities are reflected in both the content and the form. On every page we see the beating hearts of both the writers and the characters. We see people fearing and hiding from God. We see people passionately pursuing a life pleasing to Him. We see real people, warts and all, not re-written glorified accounts of carefully spun historical records. No, we see life in all its complexity and vivid reality. What’s more, the form of the writing also reveals this red/orange glow. Narratives grip us with their tension and build toward the climax and resolution of that tension. Poetry tends to be the type of writing chosen when the heart is full and something has to spill out (praise or panic). Even the direct discourse sections tends to be an impassioned plea of a speech or the warm expression or ardent imploring of a letter. Both content and form speak of the human heart beating on every page of Scripture.
Why is the Bible not merely a repository of cold truth statements? Because divine realities are reflected in both the content and the form. On every page we see the beating heart of the God who inspired His word to be given to this world. We see a God offering his heart to an undeserving humanity, pursuing them to woo, jealous of their hearts in their unfaithfulness, and showing the passionate lengths to which He would go. We see God in all His glorious others-centred love, not aloof and carefully distant, but showing His beating heart for any who dare to see what is really there. What’s more, the form of the writing also reveals this red/orange glow. God inspired the types of writing as well as the content. He inspired the narratives filled with the tension of human lives lived in response to a living loving God. He inspired the poems filled with the pounding hearts of His people in their hopes, fears, dreams, faithlessness and faithfulness. He inspired each letter, each speech, each prophetic pronouncement, each word. Both content and form speak of the divine heart beating on every page of Scripture.
The pages of your Bible glow red/orange with living beating hearts. Let’s be sure to see it as we read, sure to share it as we preach, and sure to respond to it as we live our lives in this, His world.