In our world of constant updates and upgrades, it becomes easy to believe that anything produced in the past is either out-of-date, backward, or perhaps at best, antique. Styles come and go, technology advances, and even things which once seemed certain pass out of fashion. The Bible presents ideas and assertions that, on a service level at least, may seem dated and antiquated. Even the newest parts of Scripture are nearly 2,000 years old. Does the Bible have anything to say to us in our high-tech, high-paced world?
I believe that Scripture still speaks profoundly to the circumstances we face today and places our lives within a larger story of what God is doing in our world.
Scripture holds influence through the many ways the Bible connects us to our collective past. Some of these connections are so fundamental in how we understand the world that it is hard to see where Scripture stops and social norms begin. With the Scriptures, we read of our origins, the beginnings of civilization and art, and the collected wisdom that shapes the world’s great religions and Western society’s driving narratives.
For the believer, Scripture is not a mere guide to human history or a lengthy document detailing the religious customs of ancient peoples- the Bible is a conversation. This conversation is not just God’s Word to us here and now, but a dialogue of how the God of Scripture has engaged and worked through the faithful people of the past.
Not content to tell of the past, the Bible also challenges us in our present. The Bible must be read, studied, and evaluated afresh in every generation. While principles and core concepts remain steadfast, there are specific challenges and struggles that arise in differing times and places. The apostle Paul had not considered stem cell research, American social tensions, or the current opioid crisis when he wrote about ethical challenges of his day, but there are faithful ways to apply his guiding principles to the specific problems in our own time. In humility, we must admit that our application of the Bible’s principles needs to reassessed and renewed in each generation. The principles remain, but we must continue to work out and work through the day-to-day carrying out of those principles in the circumstances of life. If we can see where believers in the past have made errors in application, we should not only refocus our study, but renew our hearts as we seek to be faithful in our time.
Beyond reviewing our past and renewing us in the present, the Bible calls us forward to our future. While views vary widely in regard to how interpret the Scriptures in regards to the future of humanity and the world, those who believe in Scripture affirm that there is a future destiny for creation and God’s people. In embracing this belief, we are not examining Scripture’s claims of judgment, hope, and salvation as uninterested observers- we are actively engaging with Scripture’s continued unfolding in our world.
The Bible is a collection of ancient texts written directly to the people of long ago, and yet it contains truths, principles, and examples that shape our daily lives. Ultimately, the Scriptures point us to a God that comes in Jesus as a Living Word and offers His own life to forgive our past, strengthen our present, and prepare us for our future. No matter what happens through the passage of time, we are called to join in this still-unfolding story.