Every once in a while I hear the Bible described as an owner’s manual. Every time I hear it, it makes me cringe. I understand that analogies have their limitations, but this is a particularly puny description of the Bible.

Here’s what I mean.

The Bible is a mystery. Have any of you ever read a passage and it spoke to you one way; and another day the exact same passage speaks to you in an entirely different way? I have. A lot. How many owner’s manuals do you have that speak to you differently according to your needs?

Me neither.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Bible is a love letter. The Bible tells us how our Creator and Father feels about us. The whole thing is a record of how he made us and how he loves us and how he made a way for us to be restored into a relationship with him. Do you have any owner’s manuals written by someone who loves you and wants you to talk to him everyday?

Me neither. P1030688

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

The Bible is a story. It’s a story about Jesus. It’s about how Jesus made us, made everything for us, and then came himself to show us how to live. It’s about what happens when we try to live without Jesus. It’s story after story that point us to Jesus, overtly and obliquely. (There’s a better explanation of this here.)
An owner’s manual is a list of instructions for optimal performance. It doesn’t challenge us to think, cause us to love, or inspire us to live well.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Bible (and by the way the Christian life) is not about a list of rules: do this, and don’t do that, and you’re life will be easier, better, more productive and successful (you’ll drive a newer car and look like the models on TV). The Bible (and by the way the Christian life) is about a relationship, between Creator and creature, Father and child, Lover and loved.

Note: All italicized selections are from the Bible.