Dead Words, Living Gospel

Does any book have more controversy swirling around it than the Bible? Yet the Bible is not quite a book but a compilation of history (some say historical fiction), poetry and correspondence. It is a compilation that has changed over time with new additions and exclusions. Yet so much is said about, for and against it with believers, sceptics and everyone in between weighing in with their two cents’ worth about it. Love it or hate it, this is one book that leaves almost nobody neutral about it.
I am a black African who in his little corner thinks that a lot of the trouble is caused by reading Eastern writings with Western rules (Even Easterners). There is no adequate method of expressing, “Namuhla bengilabo Jason,” in English. Sure, I could come up with various attempts at translation but not a single one would do it justice. What from the Bible has been lost in translation, I wonder. Thank God for raising scholars who expend tremendous amounts of time and effort, digging into the scripture to point out things that aren’t immediately seen. From paying attention to these impressive ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come to realise that there are lots of similarities between the culture and worldview of the people who lived in Bible times and that of my ancestors. I realise of course, that there are differences.

Rigours of translation aside, it appears that the Bible effects change in both the educated and unschooled. Bearing in mind that horrendous deeds have been done in the name of the Bible, I cannot help but notice that vicious men have been rendered meek and mild by letting the Bible read them. I too, have cringed when I recognised myself in unfortunate episodes in those pages. However, it appears to me that this book is more than a self help manual.

Over the years, I a certain Someone has been revealed to me by the dead words of the book. At first, the Bible was an interesting story book, then it became a harsh disciplinarian pointing out my errors in verses that sprang to mind whenever I decided to be a less than exemplary boy. In my teenage years, it became a standard that I could never be good enough to live up to. As I wrung baptismal water from my clothes, it became a manual for achieving perfection. Read in that way, dispassionately, the Bible is just dead words that lead to heaven (at least!) with a few interesting stories and philosophical implications. Somewhere along the line, I found myself scraping the bottom of life’s barrel and suddenly, Someone flipped the light switch. As I read this book and listened to other Christians, I realised the Bible wasn’t dispassionate and thus, I couldn’t be dispassionate about it. It came alive! The people it told of were real people with real struggles. Through the ruckus of the Old Testament, I kept catching glimpses of Someone I saw plainly in the New. I began to be honest with this Someone as I spoke to Him… Trembling became rest as I learnt to open up to Him. I’m still learning to trust Him but I find, that I cannot be cold and dispassionate about the Bible anymore. Everyday it slaughters my sacred cows but I can’t get enough of the One it points to.

Why am I boring you with another testimony? It is because I’ve become less abstract about the Bible and strongly believe that it is all about relationships. It is a compilation telling how God related with people and vice versa. Some of its content was given by direct vision, some by research and some by compilation of earlier writings all in order to reveal God to humanity. Besides all this, it can so easily become a long book of dead words until Someone turns the light on and brings it to life in a receptive mind. Yes, I know I’ve made a lot of claims and all but I’m not interested in arguing about the Bible. It also seems to my mind that the greatest evidence that the Bible is true can only be found by reading it for yourself and trying out what it says. Thus, all I can say is that you should read it for yourself while I hope and pray that those dead words can be a living Gospel in your life by the enabling of the Holy Spirit who inspired them. May God bless you!