A friend of mine named Bob was telling me about a situation involving another friend, Ray. Bob told Ray that he would like to get to know him better, develop a relationship, and ultimately become better friends.
A few days later, Bob received an autographed copy of Ray’s autobiography in the mail with a note suggesting that this should tell him whatever he wanted to know. If he had any questions, feel free to call.
Needless to say, Bob felt cold and rejected. He didn’t want facts, he wanted a relationship.
I have written a short autobiographical book and have written extensively on other subjects, and I sort of assume that my friends have read at least some of what I have written; but I wouldn’t confuse that with friendship or a meaningful relationship.
Relationships are built on shared experiences and time together, not just information and facts.
I think there is a parallel here with the Bible. God has written an autobiography. Like most autobiographies, it contains history, some teaching, poetry, and solid insight into what the author is all about. Reading about God and all He has done, should not be confused with a relationship with Him; nor should we worship His book more than Him.
My mother has written her memoirs and I love the book, but I love her a lot more than I love the book. Having read the book, I feel I know her better and understand some of the things she has been through a whole lot better than if she hadn’t written it, and if I hadn’t read it. But the book does not define our relationship.
It is the same with God. I would have very hard time understanding who He is if I did not read and study the Bible. But a relationship is different. I must spend quality time with Him and share my life with Him in a significant way while living it in such a way as to please Him and bring glory to Him in the end.
A number of years ago a friend told me that he was having a hard time finding a church he liked. He pointed out that some groups loved the Bible, but didn’t know God; and that others loved God but didn’t know the Bible. Since then I have sensed a lot of validity to that observation. It seems odd that there is such an either/or situation.
It is a puzzle that some of the most Godly people I know don’t seem to know all that much about scripture and that some of the most knowledgeable people on the Bible, display very little love or compassion for others.
I have tried to keep a balance, learning about God through the studying the Bible, but at the same time, not becoming so hung up on study that I miss God and His purposes in the process.