Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lost in Translation

I'm kind of cranky about something.  It's been bothering me a while and not until I was able to listen to my 9 year old daughter's perspective on the whole thing, did it come full circle and make sense.

That's right.  I said a child taught me something.  They have so very much to teach us.  Are we watching, listening, learning, and applying it to our own lives?

Anyway, some organizations give out New Testaments.  Not entire Bibles, but just New Testaments.  In the same vein, some people only talk about Jesus.  Just Jesus.  They rarely mention the name, "God" and have forgotten entirely about that other important One, what's His name?  Oh yeah, the Holy Spirit.

For the most part, except for magazines, I read from the first page to the last one.  (I like to flip through a magazine backwards for whatever reason...)  So, I understand why sitting down in front of a Bible could be daunting.  Depending on the translation there are upwards of 1950 pages to digest.  That is a lot of pages.  And they aren't just pages filled with words but filled with stories of many historical events, people, places, not to mention Creation of the whole entire Universe and a whole heck of a lot of wars and prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  So, content is rich and thick.  It's not one of those books you just sit down to with a cup of tea and finish up over the weekend by a fire.

It's also not one of those books you read only once.  At least it isn't meant to be.

What I wonder is why some people are able to devour an entire series of pop culture books that are "all the rage" and recommend them highly to everyone on Facebook and Twitter, but when it comes to consuming the same amount of pages in the Bible, it sits there, unread, crisp and a little dusty?

I've read the Bible.  I've read it a few times.  It was my main textbook in college as a theology major.  And yes, when I became a Christian, I read the book of John first, the proceeded to read the rest of the New Testament before I read the Old Testament.  Because that's what some other people encouraged me to do.  And it's all worked out just fine.  So this concern of mine, it isn't life and death, per se...

But my beef is this:  Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."  (You can read the entire passage and context in Matthew 5:17-20)  So, for people who are ONLY reading the New Testament, there are so many things they are missing out on.  For example, the WHOLE REASON Jesus came in the first place.  And how do you know WHAT LAW He came NOT to abolish?  And how does a person know Jesus is the fulfillment of Biblical and historical prophecy if they only ever read the New Testament?

If you had tripped and fallen on some train tracks and were unable to get to your feet as a locomotive approached, you would be able to see it coming, hear its whistle, assess the situation, realize you need the train to put on its brakes which wouldn't occur in time for your cataclysmic encounter, so you would know with quite clarity that you need a rescuer.

Me:  Em, something has been bothering me lately.
Em:  What's that, Mom?
Me:  Well, some organizations give people New Testaments.  They don't give them the whole Bible.  What do you think about that?
Em:  Well, that's just lame.  I love the Old Testament!  I mean, you know my favorite story is Moses and the plagues.  And what about Joseph being sold into slavery?  Man, if people are only reading the New Testament they are really missing out!
Me:  Why do you think they are missing out?
Em:  Because even though the New Testament is about Jesus and Him saving us from sin and death, it's important to know what we've been saved from.
Me:  That's exactly what I'm talking about!
Me:  It's great that they are getting copies of the New Testament, for sure.  Don't get me wrong.  But why not just give a person the whole Bible and then encourage them with a reading plan of how to tackle the Big Book in bite sized pieces?
Em:  Yeah, I love the Old Testament!  It's my favorite!

Now, granted, some reading may think, "Well, I know what I've been saved from:  drugs, prostitution, addiction, abuse, a crazy childhood, a bad marriage, my own selfishness...."  Yes.  I get that.  Ditto.

But to have a bigger picture of the Grace which has been extended and offered freely to every. single. person. on. earth. we must not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Yeah, I get it.  There's some crazy stuff which is also difficult to understand in the Old Testament.  I'm going to be jotting down some of my personal thoughts on those here, soon.  If you are interested, come on back for more.

But Jesus isn't just the Cliff Notes.

He's the whole 9 yards.

*What are your thoughts on just handing people the New Testament?
*Do you think the message is lost without the bigger picture of the Bible as a whole?


  1. Amen! I could not have said this any better.

    Have you ever heard of the book, "The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus"? It is one of the best books (besides the Bible :) )that I have read. In fact my husband was saved from going though that book. What it does is takes the old Testament and shows you how it fits with the New. It brings out all the themes in the OT stories and shows all the pictures of Christ. It really is a beautiful thing to see. God's story of redemption started in the book of just can't leave that out when telling the Gospel.

    Anyway, all that to say I agree with you. Thanks for sharing your heart. I look forward to hearing more in the days to come.


    1. I'll have to check that one out. The little kid Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, weaves the Gospel into the entire Bible. I really like this version :) Anyway, thanks, Elizabeth. I'll be checking out "The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus."

    2. There is an elderly Japanese man here in town who, after WWII, was wandering around his home town in Japan. Everyone was hungry, and he was looking for food. What he found was a little New Testament, and he got saved just by reading that. His father was a shinto (sp?) priest and he had never heard of Jesus. The man is a chaplain here at the nursing home. So, while I agree as Christians, we need to read the whole Bible, giving out the word in any form is a good thing. And if you have to choose, because of finances (or whatever), I would think the New Testament would be the one to give out.

  2. Ade,
    as a Bible teacher, and a teacher who mostly teaches out of the old testament I couldn't agree more. I've been studying Hebrews lately, and what makes Jesus so epic is that from creation to eternity, Jesus has always been the central figure, and God has always been merciful and yet taking the wrath upon himself.

    Also, when sharing the gospel with people outside of "western" culture, you can't start with Jesus. They don't get it. And they get offended. But you start from the beginning of the story and unfold it, and Jesus fits. He's not just a western religion or another prophet...he's the reason why mankind has salvation and relationship with God.

    PLUS, the way that the NT writers and believers often shared the gospel was to trace their history to show how Jesus fulfilled it all (i.e. Stephen in Acts, Romans, Hebrews).

    I could go on and on....I think I've fallen more in love with Jesus (and God and Holy Spirit!) through my study of the OT. But that's just it, it takes time...something many today are not willing to spend on their Bibles these days.

  3. Even the kids version I referenced in my reply above to Elizabeth weaves Christ from Creation to Revelation.

    And yes, as we've traveled overseas it's actually much more simple to start from the Beginning in order to introduce Christ. For sure Jesus isn't the "western white man's" savior. He's everybody's and the OT covers all that!

    Girl, you preach :) I couldn't agree more about falling more in love with the Lord because of my study of the OT.

    The time part is big. We all have the same amount of time in a day...we all have to choose how we spend it.