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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Campfire Tales”
In today’s episode, while stuck in a cave following a disastrous camping trip, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash tell their three “little sisters” some of their favorite stories about their historical heroes. The stories are practically legendary, depicting situations that seem too fantastic and incredible to be true. As a result, there’s a degree of disbelief on the part of the listeners, or at least a sense that part of the stories are a bit fabricated and blown up to make the situation look better. Nevertheless, the three older girls not only believe them but take the episodes from history as lessons for them to apply to today.
When I thought about this, only one thing came to mind for today’s devotional: what Christians themselves look to for lessons from history, and how others see the same.
When Christians hold up the Bible as defense of their beliefs, the typical response from most non-Christians is that it’s “a book of fairy tales”. It may support our beliefs, but ultimately it’s considered another work of fiction and so can’t be taken literally or authoritatively. And while Christians can defend a lot of the Bible’s content by pointing out how it collaborates with other ancient world history recordings and documents, such as the records of Josephus, and even confirm that certain prophecies did indeed exist prior to their fulfillment via documents like the Dead Sea Scrolls (because another counter-claim toward Christianity is that the only way the ancient prophecies could have been fulfilled so exactly would be if they were written after the historical event occurred), at the least we all know that there are very few things recorded in ancient world history that didn’t have the truth “stretched” over several thousand years.
Moreover, when it comes to the Book of Genesis, it seems there is direct contradiction between everything we know about science and the Bible. To this day, “Creationists” continue to claim Earth, and the universe itself, is only a little over 6,000 years old, in spite of mountains of evidence in astronomy saying otherwise. Many Christians today continue to aggressively insist evolution does not exist without even understanding evolution; even though in doing so they’re saying that HIV only needs one drug and not a cocktail to treat it, we don’t need any new pesticides ever, and that every generation looks exactly like the previous one. Their rationale is that, since the Bible is the only thing that can be considered to be 100% true and authentic, everything we know about everything else must conform to it or it’s a lie…completely ignoring the fact that people, including Christians, have been misunderstanding and misinterpreting the Bible since the beginning of Christianity and have continued unabated to this day.
But the bottom line from all of this is that, to the non-Christian, citing the Bible and everything within it as authority is as meaningless as holding up “The Cat in the Hat” and doing the same. Christians fail to realize this constantly, and I’m a bit stunned that they aren’t getting it. Back in college I got in a discourse with a Muslim about my faith, and at the end of it he gave me a copy of the Koran to cite his own authority for his own faith. Now, to me, the Koran may have parts of it that are adapted from history but ultimately I consider it, more or less, to be a “book of fairy tales” myself. I expected him and other non-Christians to feel the same way about the Bible. The question is how do I prove that the Bible isn’t and has the greater authority?
“Oh, the Bible is the Word of God!” Most Christians will immediately answer. The non-Christian responds: “How do you know that? I think this book is the word of God.” “Oh, but the Bible says it’s the Word of God!” “Well…my book says it’s the word of God. Why should I think yours is and mine isn’t?”
And, at this point, I see a lot of Christians take the “wimpy” way out: “Oh, the truth just hasn’t been revealed to you, so you’re going to be obstinate no matter what. Otherwise, you’d immediately see I’m right and you’d accept Jesus right here on the spot.” Maybe not that extreme, but something like that.
The Word of God, the Bible, is important and it does have power inside it. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-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); “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16); “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.” (Psalm 12:6); “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” (Matthew 4:4). Yet not everyone will immediately see it that way or accept it as such.
There are a lot of books out there in the world that promise to have words that lead to life and self-fulfillment. Most of them are lying, but from a distance they all look the same. The Word of God itself has been twisted and warped into something horrible to suit a lot of people’s private agendas over the centuries. Even the Devil did the same with Lord Jesus. (“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”” (Matthew 4:5-7)). Aside from that, a lot of people have used their own books, religious and secular, as justification for some rather bad things.
A responsible Christian, therefore, has to realize that there’s a lot of external factors at work actively trying to make non-Christians doubt the Bible’s authenticity besides simply “not having the truth revealed to them”. Frankly, I think the average Christian, and probably all Christians, have to deal with doubt regarding the Bible every so often (which is why most Christians avoid the bulk of the Old Testament because it’s “too hard to swallow”). If even we run afoul of that, how much more the non-believer?
So how do we remedy that?
I think the way is contained right there in the Bible. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Lord Jesus Christ is described as “the Word made flesh”. Just as we believe the Bible is the Word of God, we believe Lord Jesus is the Word fulfilled. It’s because the Word of God is more than text on a piece of paper and brings life and contains power that it’s not limited to a book but became tangible and alive in His body. In the same way, that’s how people will see that what we proclaim is real–by how we manifest it in our own flesh. And we should. If we truly believe the Word of God changes lives, then at the bare minimum our own lives should be changed by it, and changed enough to where others will see it.
To me, I never get caught up in doubt regarding the age of the universe or evolution, because I know the Bible is real from the people whose lives I’ve seen changed and the miracles that happened to them. People that I’ve dismissed as lost causes and wanted out of my life I now see as my best friends because of the power of the Word of God. The rest of the stuff is trivial to me.
If you want non-Christians, or anyone, in your life to see how much power is in the Bible, to see the authority in its word, the best way to do it is live in accordance with it…just as Lord Jesus did.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your Word, the Bible, and the incomparably wonderful message of salvation contained within. Thank you also that your Word is not merely text on a page but alive, active, and powerful. Help me to always remember that, as a Christian, I am proclaiming the Word of God at all times; whether I do so directly or in how I live my life. Grant that the words I “preach”, verbally and nonverbally, are always sharing the Gospel at all times. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”