When our son was little, my wife and I bought him a
little wagon to haul around his other toys. He sat patiently while I opened the
box, pulled out the wagon, popped on the wheels and tongue, and smiled
expectantly at him. He smiled back, then crawled straight into the box, started
rolling around in it and proceeded to play with the box the rest of the day.
Of course, that’s not uncommon for little ones. They
often seem more interested in playing with an intriguing box rather than with
the toy that came in it. They like to get into boxes, pile them up with other
boxes to make a fort, wear them – there seem to be no end of things they can
think up to do with a box.
Well, we can laugh at little children when they do
things like that. Truth be told, though, that is what many of us do with one of
the most valuable things we own. I am talking about our Bibles. The Bible is
God’s word. Between its covers is the good news of how we humans have had our
sins forgiven through Jesus Christ and in him were reconciled to God.
You’d think we’d want to open a present like that
and really get to know it. But instead, we often prefer to just play around the
edges of the real message. It often seems more fun to use the Bible to concoct
faddish diets, to condemn people we don’t like or to develop “end time”
Just as a child might find a box to be more fun than
what is in it, at least until the box falls apart, these distractions can also
seem more interesting than the Bible’s real message. But unlike a box that soon
falls apart, some of these distractions can become obsessions, and end up
diverting us farther and farther away from the gospel’s central message.
We witnessed a striking example of this recently,
when a religious organization warned their followers that the end of the world
was about to happen and the righteous should prepare to be raptured up to
heaven at 6 p.m. on May 21. Many people believed it and acted on it, even though
the Bible says in Matthew 24:36, “…about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in
heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
This kind of thing is not a recent development. Two
thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul had to warn the Christians in Ephesus not
to get sidetracked. He advised them to focus on the central truth, growing in
understanding of what the Bible really is all about, “until we all reach unity in the
faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to
the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 NIV).
“Then,” he said, “we will no longer be
infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every
wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful
scheming” (Ephesians 4:14 NIV).
Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.