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Food for Thought - Musings

The Owners Manual

As long as I have been a Christian I have heard the Bible referred to as an owner’s manual. Have you ever read an owner’s manual? Neither have I. I mean, who would? I apologize if you are one who religiously reads your owner’s manual. Anyway, usually an owner’s manual is a static resource you refer to if you cannot figure out something about your product or are having trouble with it. It is generally not prized or held in high regard.

In my experience I have not found owner's manuals to be very helpful or personally enriching. Often times after an encounter with an owner’s manual I feel more like an idiot than before I opened it. Sadly, this may all sound surprisingly similar to your own experience with the Bible. You go to the Bible for help and do not know where to look. You are given verses to look up and instead of bringing wisdom and clarity, you wind up confused, not understanding what the verses mean or how this truth can be used in your situation. You just want to stop the lights from blinking on the DVD player, not get a degree in electronics or theology! So maybe there is a reason for the Bible to be compared to an owner’s manual and maybe my dislike for the analogy says more about me than I would like.

But, that being said, the bible as an owner's manual just doesn’t sit right with me! The owner's manual is a non-personal guide to get the most out of a product. I am not a product. I am a person! I was created for a relationship, not productivity. My God is not an inventor who has slapped me together and announced one day, with a mixture of surprise and wonder, “It’s alive, it’s alive! Let’s mass produce them and get out an owner’s manual as soon as we can so they can be highly productive”.

I am the result of the act of a loving God who created me and has been wooing me to Godself since day one. The Bible is not a static owner’s manual but a dynamic love letter. The Bible is comprised of God’s personal words to me; words that are dynamic, living and active. These are life giving, life transforming words. The Bible is not an owner’s manual that I seek out only when things are not running right. No, the Bible is my touchstone with the Lover of my soul. It is my prized, treasured and hallowed possession, for it brings me to my Lover and my Lover to me, both in and beyond the words and pages of the Bible itself. An owner’s manual? No, never!

The Bible is a means of connecting that links me to my life, my God, my all. It is a letter of invitation into a dynamic and intimate relationship. It is a love letter expressing my Lover’s intentions, promises, and dreams for me, for us. It is the place of life-giving encounter, a place of life and wholeness, a place of being with, of warm embrace, and at times challenge, rebuke and correction. The Bible is a book beyond description, a book not to be read but experienced, a book to be listened to and pondered, a book alive with God.

The bible is certainly not a static owner’s manual. The bible is a passionate love letter written to you and to me, the beloved of God.
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