Bent down over the evaporative air conditioner on our rooftop, I had an epiphany. After playing with the control panel and circuit breakers for half an hour, then pretending like I knew what I was doing in taking some of the unit apart, it became so clear - I should probably look at the manual.
The manual could tell me of the air conditioner's design, the potential problems I might encounter, and the best way to efficiently keep my family cool. It is full of helpful information that any air conditioning technician will get excited about, and it was, admittedly, the one thing that brought resolve to my hot weather woes.
However, as good as the manual is, I reckon I've looked at it three times in the 5 years I've had it. Once, when it was installed so I could set up the controller right, and the other two times was when something went wrong.
You might be able to see where I'm going with this. If this is the way I treat a manual, and then I use that same picture in describing the Bible to my students, then how can I expect them to be motivated to read it outside of their "set-up" and "troubleshooting" phases?
I'm becoming increasingly convinced that if our only understanding of the Bible is that it's "the manual for life" then this might not only be unhelpful, but culturally repulsive.
So, I wonder whether a more helpful way for us to think about the Bible is as "the screenplay for God's story". I'm going to explain what I mean over the next 6 posts, and as I do, I invite you to consider whether this is a helpful way to communicate the role of the Bible to an emerging generation, and also if this is a helpful way for us to interact with the Bible ourselves.