Would you jump off Niagara Falls if…?

authorityScripture is the authoritative guide to a life that pleases God. It builds faith and makes us wise. Despite the Bible’s great potential, we’re not all in the same place in how we respond to it. Try a little thought experiment with me:

If the Bible said, “All Christians should jump off Niagara Falls,” what do you think would happen?

Some people are so convicted by the authority of scripture that they would run and jump with no hesitation.

Maybe a group would be scared and confused. They’d think about it. They’d pray about it. They’d ask for wise counsel, but when they decided this is what the Bible really said, they would walk to the falls with knees trembling, but they would jump.

Others of us would say, “God knows what he’s doing, so you guys go ahead and jump. I’ll catch up with you.” After our Christian friends jumped, we’d probably come up with a reason to explain why that command didn’t really apply to us, so we’d go home without jumping. We might feel guilty about it, but we’d let it go.

One sneaky group would point out that the command didn’t say where to jump off at Niagara Falls. They’d build a trail to the very bottom of the falls with a little 1-foot drop. They’d probably charge admission to let people use it.

Another group would probably spend a lot of time yelling at the people who didn’t jump without ever getting around to jumping ourselves.

Some of us wouldn’t be sure what to do. Jumping off a cliff seems like a bad idea. Not obeying the Bible seems like a bad idea. We’d just kind of ignore the question and hope it goes away, and get mad at anyone who ever brought the question back up.

I imagine that some of us would say, “No way, that’s crazy! I’m not jumping off a cliff!” Some around us would go a step further and try to prevent others from jumping off a cliff.

Which group would you find yourself in?

This thought experiment isn’t great, because the Bible does not command stupid, dangerous, or immoral things of Christians, but many of the commands of scripture feel nonsensical to non-believers. Non-believers can’t comprehend the meek inheriting the earth, self-sacrificial love of enemies, turning the other cheek, going the second mile, and a strict personal code of right living that denies many apparent pleasures and opportunities.

I share this article with my Christian friends for two reasons:

First, I want to you to examine your relationship with scripture. How closely do you listen to God’s word? Do you follow it when it is easy and when it is hard? Is the Bible your guide or your weapon to bully others with? Jesus said that hearing and obeying the words of God is the bedrock of life.

Second, I want you to be more aware of the world in which we live. Fewer people in our culture accept the authority of scripture in the same way that our parents and grandparents did, and that shift affects how we speak to the world of Jesus. For my friends who trust in the authority of scripture, it is sufficient for me to say, “The Bible says so,” and they will comply. For my friends who don’t trust in the authority of scripture, I have to have an entirely different conversation.

The Bible is God’s book. It is the only book that is “God-breathed,” “living and active,” able to make us “wise to salvation,” and “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It deserves a careful hearing.