Is The Bible Relevant In 2022?
I don’t know about you, but when I think about people or things from the past, I have a bit of a mixed response. There is an element of loyalty and pride and affection, but this accompanied by the awareness that there is a disconnect between then and now. For example, when I hear about the exploits of my ancestors from my parents, I admire what they did and appreciate their wisdom and character and all their positive attributes. But at the same time, there is a part of me that thinks, “They were great for their time, but probably not for today.” I think this is true of how we view our ancestors and national heroes, and it can also be true for the way in which we view the Bible. We may like some of the things we read, and maybe attached to some parts of it, while at the same time thinking that other parts aren’t really meant for 2022.
In some ways, it is understandable that we think the Bible is not really relevant for us today. After all, the most recent document in the Bible (John’s Revelation) was written more than 1900 years ago. How could things written so long ago be useful for us today? And if they aren’t really useful, why should we read the Bible at all in 2022?
In this article, I argue that humility demands that we accept the relevance of the Bible for our lives today. This is rooted in the fact that we understand and believe the Bible to be God’s Word written by human authors.
Accept The Relevance Of Our Eternal God
The Bible, as understood by Christians, is God’s Word. It is the way the sovereign Lord of the universe has chosen to reveal himself to us. Since the Bible is God’s Word, there is no doubt that we should unreservedly accept it as being authoritative over our lives. And at the same time, we should also accept that the Bible is relevant to us (no matter what the year) because it is the revelation of the eternal God who is the author of time. Although the historical reality is that the Bible was written in a time without smartphones and aeroplanes and the internet, it was inspired by the Spirit of God who knew what advances in technology would come in the 20th and 21st centuries (and even in the 23rd century if Jesus doesn’t return till then!). When God revealed himself to Moses and David and Isaiah and Paul and John, he was very aware of what the social, political, and cultural issues which would face people in India in 2022.
The writings of the Bible are rooted in historical contexts, but to say that it is irrelevant for our day and age is to call into question the relevance of our eternal God. And so, when the Bible says things which we don’t like, or are considered to be backward or irrelevant by our society, we should be careful of brushing those things aside in the name of “a different cultural context.” When the Bible instructs us on how to understand gender, marriage, church polity or our money, humility demands that we accept the divine revelation of the God who “declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isa. 46:10). The God of creation is always relevant, and His Word will always be relevant.
Do Not Despise The Wisdom Of The Past
The fact that the Bible is God’s Word does not mean the human authors were mere scribes or typists, blindly writing down what was being dictated. This is not how God chose to reveal himself. Instead, God was pleased to use the minds and experiences of the human authors to say what He wanted them to say. Certainly, Moses’ training in Pharoah’s household and the experience of taking care of cattle for decades prepared him to write the Pentateuch. And similarly, God used the life experiences of Solomon and Amos and Luke and James to use their writings to reveal His will to His people. These men were intelligent men who wrote exactly what God wanted them to write, words which would be relevant even in 3000 AD.
And so, we must guard against chronological snobbery—the proud view that people in past generations were not as smart as we are, and were gullible and unenlightened. The biblical authors knew how the natural world works, and yet unapologetically write about miracles. Doctor Luke knew where babies come from and knew that dead people stay dead. The fact that he still wrote about the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus isn’t evidence that he was naïve. Instead, it points to the historicity of these events. Yes, he wrote about two thousand years ago, but we can trust him as a reliable source, and someone whose writings are relevant for us today. We would be very naïve to dismiss Luke or any of the other authors because we think we are smarter than them.
Similarly, when the biblical authors wrote things which are considered “narrow-minded” by today’s world, we cannot dismiss them as being old-fashioned or explain them away in the name of taking the context into account. Instead, we are to take them seriously and understand them carefully, and apply them diligently, knowing that these were serious men who wrote with a God-saturated worldview.
Read, Trust And Obey The Bible
And so, because of what the Bible is (inspired by God and written by sensible humans), humility (and good sense) demands that we make the Bible a part of our daily lives. Whatever the year, the way for God’s people to live their lives according to God’s will is to read His Word and obey it.
Although the Psalms were written in a time when the weapons of the day were swords, shields, spears, bows and arrows, they help us today to pour out our hearts in prayer as we face all kinds of experiences in life. Although Jesus lived in a time which was technologically “backward,” the Sermon on the Mount teaches us what it means to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom today. And although the only mice Paul knew were four-legged gnawing creatures (and not Bluetooth mice!), his letters help us to understand Jesus’ death, and teach us how we are to live as individuals, as families, and as churches today.
I pray that we would be humble Christians and churches who would never think we are so enlightened that we think the Bible is irrelevant to our lives.