Some refer to the Bible as an instruction book or an owner’s manual. Others think of it as a “love letter from God.”
Most of us find it interesting to read letters written by someone who lived before us. Such letters give us a peek into the mind and heart of the person who penned the letter. The depth of what we are able to see through written words depends partly on who the intended recipient is. For instance, a letter written to a person’s spouse reveals more intimate details about a person than correspondence between two colleagues.
My great, great grandfather recorded entries in his journal while he sailed from Poland to America. Although I haven’t read through the pages myself, I expect copies to be forthcoming soon. (Hint, hint for my family members who have a copy.)
I’ve heard bits and pieces of what he wrote about his immigration experience. He wrote about the inexplicable joy he felt when his feet finally touched American soil – so much so that he kissed the ground.
What if I knew more? What if I knew what was happening in his mind and heart as he traveled. What happened in his life that created a longing for America? Who did he love? Are there stories he told in that old diary that would reveal who and what was important to him and why?
The day when I sit down with his written words, I’m sure to become acquainted with my Polish Mennonite ancestor. As enjoyable as I expect that reading experience to be, the writings of someone I’ve never met and is no longer living on this earth just isn’t the same as receiving a love letter that was intended for me – from Someone who is alive and is pursuing me.
In John Chapter 5, Jesus made an exceedingly offensive statement to a group of people who were well versed in the law and prophets: "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to me so that you may have life" (John 5:39-40).
The God they had studied was in their presence. But it was too much for them. Right there, in their midst stood the Son of Man, the Son of God … God in flesh.
But in His farewell discourse just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus explained to His best friends that they would not be abandoned. He told them about the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in His name. “[He] will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Just as Jesus stood in the presence of those Jews explaining the Scripture, the Holy Spirit is alive today, teaching all that has been said – if we let Him. And why not let Him? Can we not trust Him? Nothing in all creation can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” who is ever making intercession for us (Romans 8:34, 39). He is our only hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
I encountered Him because He loved me, because He pursued me. And He still pursues me. I’m not reading a letter from someone I’ve never met. I’m not reading a letter from someone who is gone.
Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” He has provided this precious, invaluable written Word. As I read this treasure, He is here with me, teaching, revealing … and loving.
We are not reading a textbook packed with dry information. He has not left us as orphans with a stack of reading material. We can have sweet, intimate fellowship with Him today.