There’s a new US sitcom out in New Zealand and as soon as I saw it, I cringed – it’s called ‘Living Biblically’ and follows the main character’s experiment to better his life by obeying every single law in the bible for one year.
As expected, it is anything but a show about living biblically and is instead about the main character arbitrarily picking and following rules out of context on his self-improvement mission.
Truly Living Biblically Is Not About…. Being Good
The premise of the show is that the main character, Chip, wants to be a better person for his wife and unborn baby. He relates it to the yearly juice cleanse he does except this will be a “soul cleanse” and it will last for a whole year. He describes his aim as “I’m a good man but I want to be great”.
The problem with this idea is that the bible is not a self-help book and its main aim is not about being good people.
The bible teaches us that humans are corrupted by sin, evil, and irredeemably broken. It also teaches us the glorious truth that God loves us even in the depths of our wickedness and has provided a way for us to be redeemed by trusting in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting his free gift of eternal life.
It is true that God’s way is a good way to live but the point isn’t to make a bunch of do-gooders but to make people who are reconciled back into relationship with God and out of love and gratitude – with the help of the Holy Spirit – do the right thing and live the way God intended us to live.
Truly Living Biblically Is Not About…. Following Rules
Another thing the tv show gets wrong is that the bible is not about simply following a bunch of rules.
When Chip’s wife hears about his idea she says, “Are we still going to have fun” an the priest he goes to visit says the bible is “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. Chip himself starts woodenly following the rules and begins by changing his wardrobe so that he won’t wear two types of cloth that are different.
The problem with all these things is that they reduce the bible and Christianity to a series of (often) pointless rules to be followed when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Have you ever been to one of those corn maze attractions? We had one in Christchurch called the “Amazing Maize Maze!” and it was a lot of fun. Fortunately, there were a few viewing platforms where you could see which way to go with aerial photographs to show the giant picture they’d made in the corn (maize).
The bible is like a corn maze – if like Chip you just dive in with no knowledge or instruction, then you’ll end up stumbling around lost in a bewildering maze. However, when you understand the big picture, the whole bible comes together and you come to understand how to ‘move’ through it without getting lost.
Truly Living Biblically Is Not About…. Being Happy
The point of the bible is not that if we follow the rules in it, then we will be rewarded with good fortune and happiness; God is not a pokie machine where you insert rule following, pull the lever, and hope for a pay-out of whatever you were wishing for!
After the first few days of Chip’s experiment, his friend comments, “You’re happier, you’re making more money, and you got to hit Gary in the head with a rock?! Maybe I should try this bible thing out!” Then when Chip is talking to a photo of his recently deceased friend, he says, “You’ve probably got a Prince Concert to go to with John Kennedy or something cool like that.”
Happiness is not the ultimate goal of life for Christians. Likewise, heaven is not centred around us and the cool things we wish to do.
Instead the bible teaches us that we can have joy inspite of suffering, can look forward to the wonders of eternal life with God whilst enduring trials on earth, and get to do the most amazing thing ever in heaven – be in the presence of our heavenly father for all eternity!
God IS what it is all about!
The saddest thing about the tv show is that it completely leaves God out of the picture. It ignores that God, the maker of the heavens and earth created us, loves us, died for us, and wants us reconciled to him so we can live in a redeemed relationship with our creator who knows us better than we even know ourselves!
The whole bible is one glorious story about our relationship with God and how he is bringing everything back to him. It is about his plans to fix all the suffering and evil so we will forever live under his perfect rule as his people, in his place where never again will there be sin or sadness or suffering!
Now that story is SO much better than the way the bible is presented in the show as a dusty self-help rule book! That is what living biblically is truly about!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrapbooking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.