Can the Bible be an Idol?

DTTFL

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This is my very first Bible I was given, before I could even read. It has 20151223_104402

pictures, and I remember one Sabbath while the preacher was preaching, I was studying a particular picture of Jesus on the cross, and gave my heart to Jesus.

I was taught that my Bible was holy, and not to set it on the ground or put another book or anything else on top of it. You may say it became my “flag” of Christianity. We don’t let the flag touch the ground and we handle it very carefully. Yet a flag is only symbolic of a country. It is not the country. Likewise the actual materials my Bible are made of are not holy materials. The message is holy. The ink and paper are not.

One day, when I was about 6, I showed my Bible to a neighbor who was eating a hot dog outside. I let him handle my Bible not realizing he had mustard on his hands. I was horrified when he accidentally smeared mustard on my holy Bible! You can still see the mustard on the opening page. 20151223_104343 (1)I yelled at him and berated him for messing up my holy Bible! I still remember the sad look on his face when he told me he was sorry, and a little stunned at how upset I was.

But was I being a little Pharisaical? Was I dramatizing the impression the mustard made on the paper, instead of realizing the impression on the paper was meaningless? What was really important, was the impression the picture and story of Jesus made on my heart.  Unless the words make my heart holy, a pristine Bible is pretty useless.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Matthew 23:25-26 NLT

I think I missed the whole point of what Jesus was all about, when I hurt my friend’s feelings by yelling at him, because he accidentally smeared mustard on the “holy” papers of my Bible. Looking back I am quite sure now that Jesus cared more about my friend’s heart and feelings than He did the paper in Bible.

I realize now that I am just making an idol out of the Bible when I make sure nothing is stacked on top of it, but yet in real life I put “things” before Jesus. The words of the Bible have made it from the scrolls to books to electronic apps. Some people don’t think of electronic Bible apps as “real” Bibles. Yet I wonder if when Gutenberg’s press came out if people did not consider the “real” Bibles to still be on scrolls.

I think we are making idols out of scrolls, hard copy Bibles and apps, unless we realize and appreciate the Bible enough to impress it upon our hearts and do what it actually says. It doesn’t do any good for me to take the flag down out of the rain, and fold it carefully if I still turn around and betray my country. Likewise it doesn’t do any good for me to make sure no books are put stacked on top of my Bible if I am still putting things before Jesus in real life.

I don’t want to make a useless idol out of ink and paper. I want God’s Word to be alive and well in my heart.

You can study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 19 (Christmas Trees at Church)

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I was 17, I was attending Oklahoma Adventist Academy, a very conservative, self supporting school. While there, during my own Bible study time I ran across Jeremiah 10, which seemed to me, it was talking about how pagan Christmas trees are.  I asked my English teacher, Mrs. Stienkrause about it. Even though she and the school were very conservative, and even strict, she explained to me that Jeremiah 10 was not talking about Christmas trees, and that Jeremiah was talking about something much more sinister than simply placing a tree inside a house for decoration. After all, it would stand to reason that if we should not have a tree in our house or church for decoration, then we should have no plants at all! This simply is not the case.

You can click here and read and listen to Doug Bachelor, a very conservative Adventist evangelist with Amazing Facts explain the truth about Jeremiah 10 and what it is really talking about.

Below is a quote from Ellen White, on how we can use the Christmas tree to promote the spirit of giving, which is the Spirit of Jesus.

We are now nearing the close of another year, and shall we not make these festal days opportunities in which to bring to God our offerings? I cannot say sacrifices, for we shall only be rendering to God that which is his already, and which he has only intrusted to us till he shall call for it. God would be well pleased if on Christmas, each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen, and placing it in our churches; but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action, and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.  -Ellen White, Review and Herald,  December 11, 1879 par. 15