Not too long ago I had a senior high student tell me that she found it hard to pray. It seemed to her that her prayers only reached the ceiling and bounced back. My response was, "Welcome to the club.
“Great!” she said, “only when I read the Bible it seems like the stuff that happened to the people in the Bible almost never happens to me.”
Again my response was “ME TOO!”
“It’s just that I often doubt that God is real. My friends all tell me that they have these awesome experiences with God and I am jealous. But even more I wonder if I am doing something wrong?”
Those of you who know Char and I well will probably lose your jaw in your pants pocket over this one. We bought a new TV. Yup. Found one cheap at Da ShuupRShtore. Brought it home set it up. First had to take the old one down. Plugged it in. Plugged all the contraptions into the slots and…
It would not fire up. Press the remote no action. Put batteries in the remote. Still no action. Red light is blazing on the bottom left hand corner of the TV but nothing is showing. So I am toughing all the stuff searching the TV for a hidden switch to point me in the right direction. Now my kids are crowded around offering increasingly maddening advice. I am already thinking about putting it back in the box when Charlene suggests the instruction manual. Fine!So she’s reading and I am trying to follow her instructions and my kids at the same time. Still nothing. Finally I take the instruction book and read it in a frantic methodical way. It is typically cryptic of these types of documents. It reads:
“Once the TV set has been put in place…Press the Standby/ON button on the TV set (this is the only button on the set) to turn the unit on. When you have picture and sound…”
So I start talking to the instruction book.
“Okay the red light is on buddy but no picture and sound."
I turn to the troubleshooting to find the problem because obviously my unit is not functioning properly. It says:
CHECK IF SYSTEM SWITCH IS ON.
I am about to swear in Portuguese when I randomly press the on/off switch again. The red light goes off and after a few short seconds the familiar hum/hiss or white noise hits my ears. I look up and…
APPARENTLY unlike most other electronic devices WHEN THE RED LIGHT IS ON THE UNIT IS NOT FUNCTIONING HOW EVER WHEN THE RED LIGHT IS OFF IT WORKS JUST FINE. RED ONLY INDICATES THE TV’s PERPETUAL STANDBY MODE.
Yahoo! Kids dance!
As any good youth pastor I have often used the instruction manual as an illustration for the Bible. You know, the Bible gives you instructions for life. Follow it’s guidelines and your life will be better. But what happens when our life is not better and you go back to the ‘instruction book’ and find it oddly cryptic and generally confusing? And I have seen it too many times how (just like with our new TV) we go rampaging through the Bible doing troubleshooting. And with forlorn guilt we start asking why: Donkey’s aren't showing up in our driveway talking to us. Or why raven don’t just bring us Pop Tarts in the morning.
I think when we say that the Bible is mainly an instruction booklet – we are screwed! Shoot we can read about all those fantastic things that happened to people in the Bible (healings, seas being calmed, sun standing still) and we can think that because “the Bible is full of that stuff,” it must have been happening all the time. You know, this is normal behaviour – check the troubleshooting section if you are experiencing difficulty. We forget that people probably would not have written about that stuff if it was common place. We forget the Bible’s narrative takes place over several thousand years. But because the Bible has become this instruction manual we have totally come to some crappy conclusions.
And another thing…
We totally have taken that another step farther. We say if you don’t get the same stuff out of the Bible that I do – you are wrong! Have we forgotten that if the Bible is God’s word that it must have been translated from Godese into human languages? Not literally! But you know what I mean. Could it be that something got lost in the translation? Of course we would never dare to dream about that because we might have to stop judging (even fellow believers). And don’t think that just because I ask these questions that I think the Bible is in any way less authoritative. It really means that I have to be way more responsible with how I choose to handle the scriptures and images I instill on the minds of those youth I have influence on. Oh yeah and I think it forces us all to stop being spiritual bigots on all sides of every fence.
 Even that phrase seems a little cliche
 Something always seems to get lost in the translation from Japanese to Engrish