Not too long ago I listened to a sermon on the radio about the Bible, and the importance of reading it. This sermon’s focus was on the nature of the Bible, or perhaps a better way to say it is “what the Bible is.” The preacher used two illustrations about how we as Christians should look at the Bible. His first illustration was that the Bible is to be looked at as a “road map to Heaven.” I have heard this same illustration more than once, also others such as; a compass; an instruction manual, and things of that nature. Once upon a time I bought into those illustrations, and found them to be inspiring. Having those illustrations in mind, I approached the Bible as if it was one, or all of those things. Now that I have grown, studied, and matured spiritually, I see these illustrations to be inaccurate.
When I heard the preacher use the “road map to Heaven” illustration, I began to really meditate on the concept. I started to think about my childhood and the long trips I took with my father. I would sit in the front seat of his truck while making the trip from South Florida to Colorado, by way of Fort Worth, Texas. While sitting in the front seat I always had the map on my lap as I navigated through each state. This is no where near what the Bible is used for! See, when we use a map, or road atlas while taking a trip, the purpose is to get from point “A” to point “B”. When you look at a map, you can see your starting point, and then look to your final destination. What you can’t see is the people, or reason for the final destination. When I was looking at the road map, I could see where the road we were on was going to lead us, but I could not see my father’s house.
Looking at the Bible as though it is a “road map to Heaven” is taking away from what it really is. When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to get to my dad’s house in Colorado. For this reason I stayed focused on the map, so that I would know where we were in relation to our final destination. It almost felt like my summer vacation with my dad didn’t start until we reached his home in Colorado. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized; the vacation’s highlights were on those road trips to and from his house. My dad worked a lot, and when we were there we didn’t get to see him much. When we were in the truck, though, we got his undivided attention, and had the best conversations. I was with him, and that was the point of the trip anyway. My father enjoyed those trips so much, and I couldn’t understand until I too became a father. Because my focus was set on the map itself, and the destination; I missed out on the one thing we were trying to keep strong. The relationship.
Looking at the Bible as the guide to get us from point “A” to point”B”, is just as dangerous. Sure, we all want to go to heaven, and without knowing what is in the Bible the possibilities of reaching that goal are slim to none, but as for it being a “road map” I cannot agree. The Bible is far more than a road map, and to look at it as such is doing it a great injustice. God has given us this collection of books as an opportunity not to have a path, but a relationship. From cover to cover, we have words, and pages full of words that point us; not to Heaven, but to Jesus.
If the reason you read the Bible is to get to a place where the streets are lined with gold, and the gates made of pearl, then you are reading “the map” upside-down. The Bible is about relationship. God longs for a relationship with us, and we long for that same relationship with God. Not only a personal relationship, but an interpersonal relationship. intimacy that can only be explained to us as finite human beings as a marriage relationship is what He longs for. We too have a longing for that kind of relationship that can only be fulfilled with Jesus Himself. The Bible is the key to that relationship. The Bible teaches us who He is, what He has done, and how we too can enter into a relationship with Jesus. Think about it; if Jesus were not in Heaven, would it still be Heaven?
You can have the streets of gold, and the gates of pearls. You can have the lack of sorrow and pain. Take the fields of flowers, and the perfection for yourself. I will happily give all of those things up; if you will just give me Jesus!
Keeping your focus on the final destination is like telling Jesus; “hold that thought until we get there.” Don’t waste this life trying to follow the “map to heaven”, read the Bible and develop that relationship that you long for. There is a Heaven, and it is His home; so don’t miss out on the conversation while your on your way.