The Meaninglessness of the Bible

[This is part two of a series on the meaning/meaninglessness of Scripture. Here’s part one.]

***

Meaningless Kitchen Gadgets*

I wonder if the people who came up with these gadgets have any ideas that they decided not to pursue. Then again, I’m surprised even these made it to market. Except this one:

Where’s this been all my life!

Seriously, folks. Don’t we all want to be able to cook up a whole one pound package of bacon in a single shot?

Meaningless In The Bible

Think the Bible’s not full of meaningless passages? The book of Ecclesiastes alone uses the word “meaningless” 34 times. If that’s not a book full of meaninglessness, then what is? Of course the writer there is warning us away from the meaninglessness of putting anything – family, work, pleasure or anything else – before God. (Ecclesiastes 12:13.)

Isaiah also speaks of meaningless matters. He brings God’s message to the people of Israel, telling them to give up their devotion to their meaningless forms of worship and instead turn to God with their whole hearts.

The theme recurs under the New Covenant as well, where Paul warns his friend Titus to guard against people who insist on teaching legalistic doctrine (the “circumcision group”).

For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. (Titus 1:10.)

Do you see how both Isaiah and Paul touch on the same problem? Isaiah warns that people are getting caught up in following formats, thinking that is what will make them right with God, without concern for true faithfulness to God himself. Paul too cautions against those who insist people must do something in order to meet God’s standards, essentially to become Jewish and try to follow the same empty rituals Isaiah denounced.

Paul’s advice on how to handle these false teachers is telling:

Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. (Titus 1:13-14.)

Make them stop because all they’re doing is promoting human commands, and human commands are meaningless.

Which takes me back to Ecclesiastes and the words of that passage I cited above:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (Ecclesiastes 12:13.)

Don’t Keep God’s Commandments

What does it mean to keep God’s commandments? It can’t mean to consider ourselves bound by the law that Moses delivered to the Israelites, the rules and regulations in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Paul made that very clear when he denounced the circumcision group. (He also did so in other letters. Read Galatians 2:11-16 for a real eye opener on how strongly he felt about it.)

So if we’re not to keep the commandments the writer of Ecclesiastes had in mind, the law of Moses, then is there any commandment we must keep under the New Covenant? Yes, and it is clear and unequivocal:

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10.)

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14.)

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. (James 2:8.)

There is no law binding on anyone under the New Covenant except the law of love.

Everything else is meaningless.

***

[This is not the first time I’ve written about kitchen gadgets, as this guest post for Keri Wyatt Kent will attest.]

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12 Responses to The Meaninglessness of the Bible

  1. lauradroege says:

    So why are we so enthralled with laws? I mean, Christians seem either obsessed with breaking them (turning freedom into license) or keeping them (legalism) or adding to already existing ones (like the Pharisees did). I can’t even begin to count the number of “format” type Christian self-help books that I’ve run across: a format for correct prayer, a formula for dating the “godly” way, etc. Then there are the folks who seem to flaunt their freedom from law: “I’m free to drink alcohol so you HAVE to be that way, too, and screw you if you’re not comfortable with me drinking around you!!” etc. We’re totally obsessed with laws one way or the other. In contrast, it’s a relief to embrace Christ’s law of love!

    • Tim says:

      Great question, Laura. People say they want to know what rules to follow, but as Paul said in Romans it is when we know the rules that we are then most tempted to break them. His point was that we fall into this because of our flesh; it truly is a matter of the Fall.

      Being toled that the only rule is the Royal Law of Love sounds too good to be true, and I think some Christians can’t accept it so they cling to what they knew before they became one with Christ. That’s \when you hear people talk about how the only Old Testament laws they need to follow are the moral code, not the rituals. The New Covenant does not mandate the moral code, though. The only legal mandate is loving others as Christ loves us.

      Like you said, “it’s a relief to embrace Christ’s law of love!”

  2. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for this, Tim. It doesn’t “make sense” to my human, rule-loving mind, but I know it’s a mystery God wants us to discover by experiencing His love in our own lives.

    As for those gadgets, she is dead wrong about the apple-slicer. Over the holidays my sister-in-law & I were preparing a snack for 5 ravenous kids, and her apple-slicer made the process about 5x faster and 10x safer. I want one (even more than the bacon thingy)!!!!

  3. janehinrichs says:

    Hi Tim. Thanks for the post. I think we humans just naturally fall into that rule thing because we can control it and it also keeps a part of ourselves for ourselves rather than giving our entire selves to God (who is good but not safe….thanks C.S. Lewis). We say we want freedom but freedom can be scary cause when we choose it ANYTHING can happen. It is stepping into the great Unknown and we hate to live with the unknown even though we do everyday. We just purposely forget that fact.

    • Tim says:

      Jane, that sums it all up completely. Keeping part of ourselves back to ourselves is one of the main reasons I think people like rules. They want to be able to think they can do some of this living in Christ thing on their own just fine. It’s impossible of course.

  4. Tim, loved this post on a few levels. When Todd and I lived on our sailboat, http://www.aljian.com/mandolin, I walked into a kitchen store. As I wandered the aisles looking at gadgets, I started thinking, “I do that with a: knife, spoon, fork…” Having a minimum of space helps one sort their priorities!

    Underway across the Pacific we were brought face to face with the fact that human endeavor and success is indeed “Meaningless! Meaningless!” without God. What we embarked upon as, basically, a sight-seeing trip, God turned into a spiritual journey. My faith was on pilot light and Todd’s was non-existent. Praise God that he drew us to Himself!

    • Tim says:

      That sailing blog and your spiritual journey sound like they would make a great story, Ellen. Planning on a few posts from that period of your life?

      • I’m sure they will come! Mandolin is still in New Zealand under the care of another sailor. We now have a Catalina 22 here in Idaho, which we named Off The Grid. 🙂 The story of how it landed in our lives is pretty amazing. I’ll have to write about that. So many ideas… SQUIRREL! 😉

  5. Pingback: You Mean To Say The Bible Means Whatever You Say It Means? | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

  6. Pingback: Bloggerneecy | Is it Revelant?

  7. Christian-in-rehab says:

    Reblogged this on CHRISTIAN IN REHAB.

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