How-to-Books

So-called ‘how-to’ books can drive me crazy.  Over time I have purged my home of these books.  Well, except for cookbooks and a couple of home repair guides.  Although, even those can defeat me at times.  The ‘how-to’ books with subjects related to parenting, relationships, being a better person somehow, and organizing my life all make me really crazy. Especially when they differ in how to do what they propose.

And then there is the Bible.  How many of you think the Bible is a ‘how-to’ book?  Many believe it is the ultimate ‘how-to’ book and if only we read it and understood it we would know what to do and how to do it.  Some argue that it tells you exactly how each of us is to live and gives direct answers.  Well, actually it does, and it doesn’t.

What do I mean?  Well, it tells us to love God and one another.  Simple…and difficult.  That is a direct direction from God and followed up by Jesus.  It tells us to care for the poor, the stranger, the homeless, the alien in our land, to welcome all.  That’s just the Old Testament.  And Jesus makes it even stronger and he makes it clear no one is outside of God’s love and no one is left out of salvation through him.  That’s pretty radical and runs counter to the ‘how-to’ be faithful things that many come up with.

And the other thing about the Bible, people don’t want to read it because it doesn’t make sense sometimes and sometimes what people tell them about it makes it scary.

Here’s the thing I experienced, the Bible is best read and talked about with others.  These past months a number of studies (conversations and learning together, not syllabi and quizzes) have happened at St. Paul’s.  They were wonderful amazing times for me.  People had conversation that took the Bible beyond a ‘how-to’, self help book to a living word.  People discovered there were even questions that couldn’t be answered and some that brought joyful insight.

No one in the room for any of these studies was an expert.  Not even the pastor or pastors.  In one study there were three pastors present and we approached some things from different perspectives.  How fun was that!

So, over this past year groups of non experts got together and learned about God and Jesus using the Bible.  The Bible became engaging and challenging and sometimes crazy making.  It was accessible and didn’t require previous knowledge or study.

I encourage each of you to find a place and time to spend time with other people learning about God using the Bible.  It’s really not as difficult or threatening as it seems.  It is just a book.  Where the book has power to show an amazing God is when people come together and God is at work in the gathering.

Linda Gunderson †
Senior Pastor

Click here to see our website's terms of service.