Imagine waking up one morning, pulling out your Bible, or opening the Bible app on your phone only to find no Bible. The book is there, but the pages are empty. The app has disappeared from your home screen.
As you can imagine, this would cause some confusion. Maybe you try Bible Gateway, but the web page has no content. Getting your shoes, you run to the library and find it there, but again you only see a book with empty pages. Looking for all the other books in the library that may have been shaped by scriptures, you find them empty as well. You now live in a world that does not have access to God’s word.
Where would you go to find a sense of identity that transcends the natural world? All that is left is made up of material and can only explain what can be observed in nature. If this is the case, then the value you have could only be based on the circumstances surrounding you. There is no other foundation for greater worth and no reason to hope that there is something beyond the material world. In addition, you may begin to wonder on what basis you value someone else or obligation you have to be morally fair or just? Without the Bible, how will you make these decisions? There are times when what is good for you may be at the expense of others. Why shouldn’t you lie if lying gets you ahead? Why not steal if you need what someone else has? What basis do people have to decide what is moral, right, or fair?
Fortunately, this is not the case. We have a basis for identity and moral goodness that transcends the natural world. We have God’s word, given to us in the Bible, to be a foundation for our lives. It is in scripture that we learn of God and the value that He has for humanity. It is in the Bible that He reveals His character and provides the foundations of morality and justice. Psalms 89:14 states “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You.” We have a foundation of true justice based on the character of God. It is because we know God, as he has revealed Himself in His scriptures, that we know what is good or evil. He defines these terms! True justice cannot come from culture or society. It is possible only in a Kingdom where God is the King, and His subjects act faithfully to His rule.
To those subjects, God has made clear His expectation of faithfulness in the Bible. He has shown us what is required, and it is far less weighty than the cost of living for ourselves. These requirements are laid out in verses such as Micah 6:8. Which states, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." We see that God is the source of Good. He both defines it in His nature and demonstrates it in His provisions. His divine example of goodness is to act justly, which means to live in a way that makes things right and restores peace. In view of the book of Micah, it is related to caring for those who have been oppressed. His goodness also demonstrates that divine justice requires mercy. This is done by actively showing loving kindness in our daily interactions. For many, this is difficult because being people who love mercy means that we may have to deny ourselves what we deserve to be merciful to others. Lastly, we are to walk humbly with God. This is to model our lives after the pattern that God has set before us in His word. To walk with God is to allow Him to lead our steps and guide our way. As Christians, we are to humbly follow the mandates of justice and mercy while walking faithfully with God.
As I consider this, I find myself grateful for the Bible. The scriptures are not empty pages but the basis for my life. In it, I find the source of human value and directions for a full and satisfying life. God has revealed what is good. To live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly is a good basis for the Christian life. At first, these values do not seem like much, but they are enough to last a lifetime.
Micheal Hurlbert is Associate Pastor at First Christian Church