In the post-apocalyptic movie, The Book of Eli, the villain has one main mission: To find a copy of the Bible. Though all Bibles were supposedly destroyed after the nuclear war, he continues to send his men out in attempts to find one lying under the rubble of the old world. This confuses his goons, causing one of them to ask how finding a book could be such a big deal.
“IT’S A WEAPON!” the villain screamed. “A weapon aimed right at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate. It will give us control of them. If we want to rule more than one small town, we have to have it. People will come from all over, they’ll do exactly what I tell ’em if the words are from the book. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.”
Unfortunately, he’s right. In proper hands, the Bible is a key to loving God, neighbor, and self, and to establishing the reign of Heaven and King Jesus on the earth and in our hearts. But in improper hands, it can be used as a tool of destruction that is cherry picked and used out of context in order to endorse the most faulty and anti-Christ beliefs, politics, and agendas. Understanding the Bible rightly requires deep study, an understanding of the book in its entirety, archeological and historical research, and most importantly of all, the Holy Spirit’s illumination. When we do nothing more than read it through the lens of our own lives, experiences, and desires, we interpret its words as nothing more than an endorsement for what we believe, love, and hate, causing it to operate as an extension of ourselves rather than as an extension of God.
When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak at a local synagogue, he got up and shared the gospel, leading many to Christ. With great conviction he preached about Jesus, reminding his audience that even though the religious leaders in Jerusalem read the prophets every Sabbath, they still missed the point and killed the Messiah. And now, 2,000 years later, it must be hard for Jesus to watch as his own continually use the Bible to establish anti-Christ points that go against the red letters themselves. We must watch out for the Bible villains in ourselves, because unlike the villain in the Book of Eli, we tend to boldly abuse the Scriptures without noticing it.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Acts 12:19-43 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net.