There’s No “ME” in “Scripture”

canstockphoto22209710Do you read the Bible egocentrically? You probably do, but in many ways it’s not your fault. Most of us were taught to read it that way.

By egocentric I don’t mean conceited, arrogant, narcissistic, or selfish. I mean it in the purest sense of the word, that we regard the I and the me as central to the story of Scripture and the aims of redemption. The individual has become paramount in our thinking and our understanding, and the only individual that any of us are responsible for is, of course, ourselves.

But we were taught this way. While on the one hand we were warned about the sins of selfishness and self-centeredness, on the other hand we taught that Jesus died for me. I remember being told that if I was the only person on earth that needed saving, Jesus would have died for me. So if I read Scripture egocentrically—with me at the center—it’s with good reason.

An egocentric reading of Scripture, however, gets in the way of understanding Scripture, which in fact wasn’t written about me, nor was it written to me. That’s a hard one to hear and accept, but accept it we must.

Scripture wasn’t written to you. In a larger sense you can say that Scripture was written for you, but no one can say that Scripture was written to them. Unless you’re an Ephesian Christian in the 1st century. Or a Galatian Christian in the 1st century. Or a Jew living through the Babylonian exile. You get the point.

So to read all Scripture, or any individual Scripture, as being written to you is to get off on the wrong foot from the start. No part of Scripture was written to 21st century Americans, or anyone living anywhere today. That is so self-evident that I really shouldn’t have to say it, but I do. In fact, you can really only say that Scripture is for you and about you inasmuch as you are part of the much bigger plan that is revealed in Scripture.

When I make Scripture and God’s plan of redemption and renewal about me, I truncate God’s plan and make it about something much smaller than what it’s about.

God’s plan is not any less than about your salvation and mine, but it is about so much more than your salvation and mine. So much more.

An egocentric view of God’s salvation plan is too small, and because it is so small, it leaves us wanting. It leaves us wondering. Wondering about God’s plan for our lives. Wondering about our purpose and meaning. Wondering about how much of our lives we’ve wasted, and is it too late to discover God’s plan for our lives and how we can live lives of significance when just getting by consumes so much of our time and energy.

I’m not sure it’s even proper for each of us to ask, “What is God’s plan for my life?” Such a question envisions God saying, “You, Larry Eubanks, are so central to what I am doing that I have taken the time to draw up a plan for how you can be happy and fulfilled and live with meaning, purpose, and significance.”

I mean, how egocentric is that? OK, so here it is: God hasn’t devised a plan for my life, he has devised a plan for the renewal all of Creation, and inasmuch as I am a part of his Creation, then it is a plan for my life. But my life finds meaning and purpose not as I search for and fulfill some special, unique plan for my life but as I cooperate with God in pursuing and fulfilling his plan for all Creation.

God didn’t simply come to Abram and say, “Abram, I have a plan for your life that will bring meaning, purpose and happiness to your meager existence.” He said, “Abram, I have a plan to bless all the families of the earth so everyone will stop killing each other and raping the earth and things will be as I created them to be in the first place. I want to use you to make it happen. You in?”

Abram found his purpose when he pursued God’s purpose. In other words, when he took his eyes of himself and saving his life and finding his purpose and rather put his eyes on God and pursuing God’s purpose of renewing all creation, Abram found a purpose for his life.

I challenge you to find one person in Scripture who asked, “What is God’s plan for my life?” and then, having figured it out, started pursuing it. Instead they asked, “What is God’s plan for the world” and then pursued it.

The reason you should read Scripture is to discover God’s Plan. It’s not hard to see, really. Why would he make it hard to see? It’s right there, and if any of us have a hard time seeing it, it’s probably because we’re too busy looking for God’s plan for our own lives that we can’t see anything else—including God’s plan for our own lives.

Image by © Can Stock Photo Inc. / deandrobot

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