We’ve been taught to respect it from an early age.
I’ve seen older men sternly correct young men for not respecting it.
I’ve heard of people who have wept when it wasn’t handled properly.
Many fights have started when it was openly ridiculed.
Times have changed. But the message is still clear. Respect the American flag. That’s a good message for how we view the flag. It’s a terrible message for how we handle the Bible.
My fear is that many of us treat our Bible just like we do the American flag.
We respect it. After all, it’s what we put our hand on when we take an oath in court. We don’t go outside and throw it around. Once I thought that my mother was going to have a heart attack when she saw me put a glass of sweet tea on top of my Bible. In the south at least, respecting the Bible is serious business. Just like it is for the American flag.
Here’s an important question.
Can you remember the last time that you actually used the American flag?
Sure, you look at it. You pledge allegiance to it. You have a problem with the people who burn it and walk on it. But do you ever really use it?
Of course not.
Flags aren’t really meant to be used as much as they are to be looked at and respected.
The Bible is different.
Preachers preach sermons about how important the Bible is without ever even referencing it. Politicians fight to have excerpts of it hung in court houses without even knowing what those excerpts mean. And Christians like me can rattle off verse after verse without ever giving a second thought to how those verses should play out in our lives.
We are very good at respecting the Bible.
We like to talk about it.
We even know a little bit about it.
But that’s not what the Bible is for. That’s what flags are for. The Bible is not a flag.
It is a sword.
It is a sword for fighting against Satan’s schemes.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:16-17 (ESV)
And it is a sword that exposes the phony faith that likes to take up residence in our hearts.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
There is nothing sacred about the genuine bonded leather that forms the cover of your Bible. If you want to sit a glass of sweet tea down on it, that’s between you and my mother. Good luck.
The sacred part is the message. And that message does us no good when we admire it, respect it and talk about it from afar. We must allow it to slice us open, separating our cheap talk from genuine faith. We must use it daily to kill the sin that so easily deceives us.
Father, grant us the grace that we need to stop merely respecting your word.
Help us to actually live it.