Do You Want to Live a Biblical Life?
Or Is There a Better Way?
by Jim Gordon
We who are part of the Christian faith have a lot of terminology we use, but often do not think about the real meaning. Rather than continue to use some of these phrases, we should stop and think about what we really mean.
If you have been around church very long, one such phrase you have probably heard is we want to live a ‘biblical life’ or ‘we are a biblical church’. At first this sounds good and spiritual, but after thinking about it a little, these are a couple of the phrases we may want to reconsider.
What Do We Mean by Biblical Living?
The Bible can be very confusing and sometimes mentions ways of life that do not seem very Christ-like. Biblical living can also seem very different from the life of Jesus. By biblical living, I am talking about reading the Bible with the thought that every written word is literal, inerrant and directly from the hand of God, no questions asked. It also means we read the Bible based on modern times and do not take into effect that customs, words and times have changed over the centuries.
Biblical living often means we follow a pastor who we look to as a middle man or woman between God and us. We take the pastor’s interpretations and views without really thinking for ourselves.
Biblical living has led to slavery, murder, the dark ages, witch hunts, the crusades and various forms of hatred, exclusion and discrimination.
Biblical living can vary according to church doctrine and personal interpretation, which has led to thousands of different denominations. This of course leads to division among the brethren.
Organizations such as the KKK came into being, with its hatred and discrimination against people of color partly due to what was read in the Bible. Some information on the KKK and Christianity was listed at gotquestions.org and you can read about it at this link.
Another issue that can be found in the Bible is the acceptance of slavery. Christianity Today ran an article discussing slavery which can be read at this link.
Living a biblical life can easily lead to discrimination against women. Women were considered property in the middle east and had no individual rights. Even in our world today, at one-point women did not have the rights that men had, and still endure many inequalities to this day.
Biblical living required that a woman caught in adultery be stoned.
Biblical living required a woman who was not a virgin on her wedding night to be executed.
Biblical living can lead to the killing of children. We read passages about how children should be killed for doing certain things, such as in Leviticus where it is written that if a child is rebellious, he should be stoned.
Biblical living required people abstain from certain foods and fabrics, it restricted what people could do on certain days and a host of other rules and laws.
There are passages that condone having multiple wives, restrict women from teaching in the institutional church and that discriminate against those who are LGBTQ.
Clearly, biblical living can take effort on our part in trying to interpret and follow each Bible verse literally. Of course, the problem is which interpretation or which doctrine do we determine to be the correct one?
Biblical Living Seems So Hateful
So often the religious world seems to be so hateful toward those who are different. Religion says do not associate or accept those that do not agree or measure up; stay away from those who are sinful and unworthy.
We often read that God told the Israelites to completely wipe out and destroy certain groups of people due to the way they acted or believed.
I personally think God is highly misrepresented in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. I think many times when men wrote that God said this or that, it was more of what they wanted to do rather than God actually telling them to do such horrible acts. They would do what they wanted, then say God told them to do it.
Should We Disregard the Bible
By saying all this, does that mean the Bible is not important? Should we ignore it and stop reading it? Of course not. The Bible is inspired and written by men who experienced God and walked with Jesus. The Holy Spirit can enlighten the words written and can lead us to the Living Word of God who is Jesus. The Bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.
The problem is when we elevate the Bible to being equal to God or make it more important than the Spirit who lives within us. Many people seem to think of the trinity as the Father, Son and Holy Bible.
When we think about all the killing, discrimination and injustices that are done based on people’s interpretation of the Bible, we should begin to question why this is. Could it be that biblical living really is not what we want? I believe there is a better way of living our lives for God, and that is Christ-like living.
What is Christ-like Living?
Christ-like living is following the example of Jesus. We can find out how Jesus lived and treated people as we read the gospels in the Bible. Rather than living by man’s doctrine and interpretations, or by exact adherence to biblical verses, we look to the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The Bible can be very helpful in how we live and how we love God and others when the Spirit reveals the truth to us.
We know that Christ-like living showed mercy and grace to the woman caught in adultery. We also know that Jesus did not ignore or look down upon women. He associated with them and treated them as equals.
We know that Christ-like living did not murder.
We know that Christ-like living provides freedom.
We know that Christ-like living does not judge, condemn, discriminate nor exclude.
In direct opposition to biblical living, Christ-like living puts all the effort on Christ. Jesus said to take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.
We do not hear very much taught about the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus seems to contradict many of the biblical sayings during this teaching. Jesus often said ‘you have heard that it was said this or that, but I tell you this’. Jesus was saying the he had authority over the written word. Of course, we know from John 1:1 and 1:14 that Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is a written account about God, but does not have the power and authority of Jesus who is the Word of God.
In his article, Why You Should Run from “Bible Believing Churches”, Adam Ericksen states the following:
The Bible contains human testimony about how God works in the world, but it is not God’s inerrant Word. The Bible points beyond itself to God, and in the New Testament, to the God revealed in Jesus. The Bible even claims that Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible itself.
Jesus warned people about elevating the Bible above himself. “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Jesus came into the world for the purpose of showing us what God is really like. The way Jesus lived seems like such a contradiction to some of the ways of biblical living we see in our world. Jesus showed us that God is love by the way he loved and accepted people. The same people that many in the religious world condemned, would not associate with and found completely unworthy to be loved.
Christ-like living is based on love. Jesus said to love God and love one another. Since we have the Spirit of God living within us, we know we can act from love in how we treat one another.
In Christ, we can be free from biblical living to live a Christ-like life because of the grace of God. We do this by following the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
Christ-like living is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is certainly a better way to live and follow Jesus compared to some of the biblical ways we have been taught.
Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org