01 November 2011
What the Bible means to me
by Cris Rogers
I became a Christian in my late teens. I had grown up in church but was never too convinced by the whole thing. But one day found myself reading the gospels and it was while I walked through the stories of Jesus I found someone compelling and inviting.
I can honestly say that it was through reading the gospels that I came to faith. Jesus' words and actions, which challenged the systems of the time, drew me in. Reading these stories made me realise that it was the world that had gone mad and Jesus was calling people to come into their right mind.
Over the last 10 years I have grasped that what we need to try to do with the Bible is first understand what Jesus was trying to do with it. Jesus was a rabbi who had been brought up to study the Torah, the first five books. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus tells his disciples that he had not come to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets (rest of the Hebrew scriptures); he had not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. When Jesus says he has come to fulfil them, he means in the sense of being the messiah but also to fulfil them in showing what it looks like to live it out in flesh and blood. Jesus had come to show what it looked like to live out God's Torah, His holy scriptures, in the day-to-day life of religious and political empires, death and illness, prostitutes and sexual immorality, greedy tax collectors and poor peasants. The Scriptures are an intoxicating God story that dares us through each passage to be the change we long for.
Everything Jesus said and did shed new light on an old out of date book. The Torah had been written while in the desert for a group of nomads. Jesus' followers didn't live in the desert, they lived in the city. They didn't camp in tents or need to know how to go to the loo outside the village; sanitation was no longer an issue. Jesus had to take an old and out of date text and bring it alive once more for his generation and we today are still doing the same. Jesus studied the Torah because he wanted to embody it; he wanted to become more like his father. Jesus knew his Torah off by heart, he knew it inside out and back to front, he could quote any section at any time and because of this he could hang an old text in new ways for his generation.
The scriptures for me are this beautiful challenge to be constantly thinking, constantly changing, constantly challenging and constantly dreaming of a new kingdom right here on earth.
Cris Rogers is the author of The Bible Book By Book