A common objection to the Christian faith is that the Bible is outdated. Its most recent parts were written almost 2000 years ago, after all, and humankind has progressed a lot since then. Isn’t it regressive to consider what the Bible has to say about truth and morality? However, upon closer inspection, the Bible proves to be just as relevant today as it was when it was first written.
“Who am I?”
We all desire to find our identity – where we really fit in the world. Maybe you find your identity in your future career, in your girlfriend/boyfriend, in your sexuality, in your socio-economic status, in your nationality, or in your ethnicity. We also desire to find common ground with other people – how are we alike? How can we come together? The Bible gives relevant insight into these quests.
First and foremost, the Bible describes human beings as being made in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:27). There is much debate as to what this phrase means, but ultimately it means that people are set apart from the rest of the animal kingdom as God’s special creation. It also means that we inherit some of the characteristics of God – such as creativity and love. We have the ability to do really good things. God has created each one of us, including you, for a relationship with him. You have extreme value to God.
Unfortunately, there is another side to this coin. All people, including you, have sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Although we were created to have a relationship with God, that relationship was broken when we disobeyed him. So, even though you are extremely valuable to God, you are also separated from him because of sin. Even though you have the ability to do good things, you also have the ability to do evil. As N.T. Wright, a prominent Christian theologian, says in his book Surprised By Scripture, “The line between good and evil does not lie between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ between the West and the rest, between Left and Right, between rich and poor. That fateful line runs down the middle of each of us, every human society, every individual.” Maybe you’ve experienced the feeling that Wright describes – that you have goodness in you and are of value, and that you have done things that have harmed both you and other people. This experience lines up with what the Bible says to be true about you (and everyone else).
It is because of your value to God and the fact that you have disobeyed God that Jesus died for you – it is through his death and resurrection that you can be in a relationship with God. So, according to the Bible, there are three things that are true about your identity: you have extreme value to God, you have disobeyed God, and Jesus died for you.
“Why am I here?”
All human beings long to have find purpose in their lives. Many people base their purpose in temporary things, like in their career or their family. Many different belief systems base the purpose of human existence in attaining a certain holiness or morality that can only be achieved through much meditation, prayer, rule-following, and a rejection of many pleasures in life. The Bible offers a profoundly different answer to the question, “why are we here?” than any other worldview. According to the first two chapters of the Bible, our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy a relationship with Him. Out of this purpose comes several more: we are to have good relationships with others, we are to work for meaningful things, and we are to take care of the earth.
Christianity is unlike all other religions in that we can have a relationship with God. This is not because we have “earned” the right to talk to him, or that we can ascend to His level, but because God loves us and has made it so. Because this is our purpose in life, having a relationship with God is something that every human being longs for, even you. According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has also set eternity in the human heart.” This is why we long for something greater than ourselves – a purpose that transcends our own life. This longing can be prompted by consuming beautiful art or music, viewing a colorful sunset or a mountain range, seeing beauty in people, and in many other ways. We desire to understand the reality and purpose behind these beautiful things in a way that the scientific method cannot explain to us. This reality and purpose is in the mind of God himself, and it is for us to enjoy.
The Bible teaches us that the way we can have a relationship with God is through Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Because our sin separates us from God, God took on skin and bones in Jesus and paid our punishment for us, giving us the ability to accept him and have new life with God. Our purpose is to receive God’s love through Jesus and enjoy eternal life with him. Isn’t it interesting that all humans long for this kind of love?
Once we accept God’s love for us, we get to share that love with other people. That becomes another purpose for humankind according to Scripture. In fact, Jesus said that the two greatest commandments of God are to love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-39). Since Jesus has sacrificed himself for the worst of sinners because he loves us unconditionally, we can now love people unconditionally. We are able to love and forgive our enemies. We can live like Jesus.
“Why is there pain and suffering?”
Many different worldviews have only one answer for why you are experiencing pain and suffering: “It’s natural selection at work,” or “It’s because you have done something to deserve it,” or “Because it will build your character.” Sometimes these one-size-fits-all answers to this complex question can do more harm than good. Luckily, the Bible gives many different reasons for why pain and suffering exists, and more importantly, what God is going to do about it.
First of all, it is important to note that, according to the Bible, the world was not created in the evil state that we now live in. It was created “very good” without any intention for pain and suffering to affect us (Genesis 1:31). So, God did not create an evil world – humankind brought evil into the world when we first disobeyed God. Now that evil exists, there are a plethora of ways it is used and committed. Here are just some of the reasons the Bible gives for why pain and suffering might be happening:
- Humanity’s sin brought evil into the world
- People, in their free will, choose to harm others
- Satan and his demons harm others
- God punishes wicked people for committing injustice
- God uses suffering to draw us closer to him
There is no one-sized-fits-all answer for why pain and suffering is happening in your life. Many times, evil is senseless and leaves a wake of innocent victims, and perhaps you have thought, “how could a powerful and loving God let this happen?” The Bible doesn’t answer that question directly, but it does something better – it shows what God has done and will do to defeat evil.
When Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin, the book of Hebrews says that he broke the power of the devil (Hebrews 2:14). When Jesus returns to earth at the end of time, he will defeat and judge evil once and for all (Revelation 20:10). Those who have accepted Christ and lived for him in this life will have every tear wiped away and will never experience any death, suffering, or pain (Revelation 21:4). He will then make everything new so that evil will never again exist (Revelation 21:5).
The Bible is Relevant
These are just a few examples of how the Bible is relevant to our lives today. The ultimate example is its account of the life and teachings of Jesus. He is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3), and in him is the truth (John 18:37). Have you listened to what he has to say about you and your purpose? Have you accepted him as Lord and Savior? For more information on how Jesus can transform your life, click on the banner below.