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When you buy something of value—a new appliance, TV, gaming console—it comes with an instruction manual to fill us in on all the in’s and out’s our new purchase has to offer. The truth is, we rarely ever read it, and just keep it in a drawer in case something goes wrong. Manuals are boring and mostly useless until something breaks, and then guess what we grab? The book with the do’s and don’t’s—and the warranty information.
Unfortunately, people treat the Bible as an instruction manual. Maybe you’ve heard this B.I.B.L.E acronym—“Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Cute, but wrong. While the Bible does have instructions, labeling it as such would cause most to, at best, barely skim it, and at worst, totally dismiss it.
The Bible is not primarily a book of do’s, but a book of done’s. It’s a book communicating the broken state of mankind and the glorious Saviour that came to rid us of the death that sin brings.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll simply break the Bible into two types of statements. I know there’s more, but to keep this to a readable length, two will do.
Example: Colossians 3:1-3 – “If then you have been raised with Christ,” (indicative, done) “seek the things that are above” (imperative, do this) “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (indicative) “Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.” (imperative) “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (indicative).
If we view the Word as merely an instruction manual, we’ll only see imperatives, things to do. We’ll be crushed, because none of us are that good and always keep to what the Word says. We will try, try, try, without knowing how in the world we can do it all.
The beauty of the Christian life lies in the indicatives. That’s where the fuel to “do” comes from; our desire to obey comes from the indicative not the imperative. Try to obey with no fuel, and you’ll live an exhausted Christian life. “Do” from a place of freedom and completion, and you’ll have life.
Fuel comes before motion. If we’re empty and try to move, life is impossible. If we’re filled and freed by the greatness of what Jesus did for us, doing comes easily. Jesus said, “For without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b) But with Jesus, living for Him becomes possible.
So let’s not view the Bible as an instruction manual, or it’ll sit in the drawer of life to only be pulled out when a problem occurs. Instead, it’s a passion-filled book about the unending love of our Saviour, detailing how He showed that great love to the world by living, dying, and rising again. Our warranty isn’t found in a book, but found in the One who has given us life.
Everything a Christian does comes from a place of completion. So before you attempt to “do,” know that you’re full of Christ because of what he has done.