A friend and co-worker recently passed along some thoughts that he’s had about our natural inclination to miss the big story of the Bible. Jeff, is a licensed counselor who has a deep concern about how our hearts interact with the heart of God. While reflecting on Revelation 3:14-20, he suggests,
“There are two ways to read the story of the Bible. One is to read it mostly as an indictment on the human race. In other words, we are sinful rebels bent on finding life apart from God.
The other is to read the “greatest story ever told” as an invitation. Yes, we are sinners who have turned away from our Creator God and His design for our lives (Romans 3:23). Yes, we’ve rebelled, but God longs to forgive and to restore us so that we can declare to the world His story of rescue and renewal.
If we read the Bible as an indictment, we will tend to see God as angry and harsh. But if we read the Bible as an invitation, we will be more inclined to see God as a merciful and loving God who “sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).
Reading the Bible mostly as an indictment heaps shame and condemnation. Reading it as an invitation might cause us to feel disrupted and heavy-hearted, but it will also lift us up with great hope. Because we belong to Jesus we have the capacity to be so much more than our sinful inclinations. “New life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Indictment screams, “Try harder!” Invitation whispers “Surrender.” Indictment calls for more effort from us. Invitation calls for less from us and more from God. Indictment barks, “Clean up your act!” Invitation is Jesus saying, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20).
When you sit down to read the Bible, consider yourself invited. —Jeff Olson
P.S. Paul said that it is the invitation of God’s patience and kindness that turns us from sin (Romans 2:4).”
Seems to me that Jeff catches here the difference between what God says in telling us our story and why he tells us. What do you think?