I was out for a run one day, listening to a sermon, and heard the pastor say that the Bible wasn’t about me. I was shocked, genuinely. He continued on to say that the Bible was about Jesus. Ohh… of course it is, I mentally corrected myself, embarrassed by my surprise.
But as I consider that day and continue to listen to sermons and read Bible studies, I wonder – why was I shocked? Because I was so purposely inwardly focused? Because I was so vain to think God wrote a book about me? Or perhaps I was shocked that the Bible wasn’t about me because sermon after sermon detailed how scripture relates to me and what I am supposed to do. Because study after study, all I ever extracted was my own application points.
I wonder – How often are we learning the Bible absent the Gospel? How often are we learning the Bible without barely considering the main character?
Growing up in a Christian home, I became pretty familiar with the Bible intellectually. And too many times I found myself quick to spit out the “right answer”. And I started to become quite proud of my knowledge. Until my pat answers that seemed good for everyone else weren’t working for me. I was doing all the right things: praying, reading my Bible, completing various studies… but something was missing.
He wasn’t in everything. He was alongside everything. He wasn’t the focus, he was a supplement.
It’s innocent, and it’s subtle, but I see this pattern unfold in my life. All. The. Time.
If the most important, most repeated commandment is to love God first, then everything should always fall under that umbrella. But there is no way I can love God first if I’m only thinking about myself. The implications tend to go one of two ways:
1- I’m pushed away from God because I believe I can be moral on my own. I lose my need for Jesus when I can just apply a 5-step process and better myself. I don’t give him the credit he deserves when I believe I can slay my own giant and make a name for myself. And I become exactly like the Pharisees, high on my own goodness and self-righteousness.
2 – I’m pushed away from God because I’m not good enough. When I’m “doing all the things” – reading my Bible, praying, obeying God, and not seeing fruit or relief from battles, I see it as my fault. I find myself believing things like, “This situation isn’t going well, because my faith isn’t great enough. I’m not praying enough. I’m not reading enough. I’m not fighting hard enough.”
Either way, it’s I, I, I…
And ironically, this is the religious system that leads to slavery: dependence on myself and division from God. It is not a burden we are meant to bear.
We are called to love God, not to be Bible scholars. We are called to worship Him, not to congratulate ourselves on our religious performance. But our love for God can only grow as we begin to understand the depths of his love for us. Our worship grows as we begin to understand just how great and mighty he is, as we begin to see his name unfold in every area of scripture, and as we begin to grasp just how desperately we need him.
Of course we should study the Bible. It’s God’s Word. Of course we should pray and join Bible studies. I’ve just seen from my own life that we can miss the point of scripture and a walk with the Lord if we focus more on knowing about God than knowing him personally. We miss the point if we only extract application without first considering the one whom we should apply everything through. We miss the main point. We miss the glorious, marvelous, beautiful main point. The cornerstone. Jesus.
The Bible is about Him. What he planned to do, what he did, why he did it and what he’s yet to fulfill.
The story of David isn’t about David, it’s about Jesus. The story of Moses and the Israelites isn’t about Moses and the Israelites, it’s about Jesus and his people. The parable of the prodigal son isn’t about a wayward child, it’s about the hope of redemption by a loving Father and an ultimate big brother who went after his lost sibling and welcomed him home, glad to share the inheritance that was rightly his.
Pray. Read. Fight when God calls you to fight. But keep the perspective that it is only because of Jesus that you can approach God, that you can call him Father, that you can understand scripture and that you can be victorious. Wait when he calls you to wait, move when he calls you to move. And worship. Again and again and again. May we praise him for who he is and what he has done. He is the author and the main character. And it is about his glory.
A lot changed for me on that run, when I was pointed back to Jesus, back to the only foundation that is secure. The truth that everything is about Him has shifted the way I read, study and teach. It’s shifted the way I look at myself and trust the identity that Christ has given me, in Him. And it’s growing my love for the Lord and opening my eyes to His beauty in ways I hadn’t before experienced.
The scriptures all point to Him. He is the life, both now and the way to eternal life, and He is the means to life to the full. It has always been about Jesus, and it always will be about Jesus.
Practical application: When reading Scripture, consider – How does the passage relate to Jesus? How has he accomplished it? How does it point to Him?
Ask God to show you, and listen to people who will teach you. Savor the process.
I need constant reminders, so it’s been unbelievably helpful for me to learn from people who are consistently pointing me to Christ. I specifically choose certain podcasts and sermons, and I’ve cut out teachings that don’t point me towards Him. I owe so much of what I’ve learned to Tim Keller, and it was his sermon that inspired this post a long time ago. Some resources are below.
Teachers and leaders – May we never stop declaring the Gospel. May we never stop exalting the name of Jesus. Believers need reminding, and non-believers need the invitation. They can’t receive a Gospel message they don’t hear.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. – John 1:1-3
I am the way, the truth and the life. – John 14:6
I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. – John 10:10
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any doubled-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:29-30
Related article, The Gospel Coalition – Your Whole Bible is About Jesus
For Kids – The Jesus Storybook Bible