Denzel Washington starred in a movie a few years ago called The Book of Eli. The film was set in a violent, post-apocalyptic society. Food, water, and electricity were scarce, and moral character was nearly extinct.
The main character, Eli, was on a mission to protect a book that held the secrets to saving mankind. The book eventually fell into the hands of the story's villain, but Eli was still able to pass on its truths because he had been memorizing it for the last 30 years. What was this book? The Holy Bible.
It's hard to imagine a world without access to the Bible. A recent study showed that the average American household owns 4.4 Bibles. It is easily the bestselling book of all time.
And maybe that's part of the problem.
With more access to the Bible than ever before, it seems that fewer and fewer people truly know God's Word. We may know a few verses or phrases, but we don't know the story that God intended.
Jon Bloom, writing for DesiringGod.com, says, "We are becoming information scanners, quickly browsing but not digesting very much. We are losing patience for deeper, more reflective reading."
I'm guilty of this. Sometimes I quickly read a passage with my wife or son without taking time to understand the deeper narrative. But as a young father, it is my responsibility to help my family see and know the God who created the world and us.
I decided to start small by picking just five passages from the Bible that are central to the main narrative. It is my desire to incorporate these truths into the fabric of my family's values. These five passages tie together the theme of God's love for mankind and our relationship to Him:
1. Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." People often skim over this verse when reading the creation account, but the most important four words of all of Scripture might very well be "In the beginning, God." I want to make sure my family knows this verse because it proclaims God's existence, power, and authority over the earth.
This verse does not argue for the existence of God, but simply states that He is. It does not argue for the power of God, but simply states that all was created by Him. It does not argue for the authority of God, but simply states that all in heaven and on earth are His.
2. Genesis 3 I chose this chapter because it clearly shows the first sin by Adam and Eve and how the effects play out through the rest of human history. To get the full picture of the sin of idolatry that crept into the hearts of Adam and Eve, the full chapter is required.
This long passage describes man's choice of creation over the Creator (Romans 1:23). It shows the immediate brokenness of the relationship between God and man, and the attempt by man to cover his shame and guilt. It also shows the judgment, curse, and consequences that the choice of sin brought upon all the earth. Finally, it portrays the separation that sin creates between man and God when God removed mankind from the Garden of Eden.
It is important to me that my family knows and understands man's destructive fall to sin and how this affected his relationship with God.
3. John 3:16-21 This passage starts with the most famous summary of the gospel in the New Testament: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son …" But the words that follow are also powerful and can't be neglected. John clearly says in verse 17 that it was the Father who sent the Son into the world. It was God who provided a way to reconcile the broken relationship with man.
Verse 18 shows that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God are condemned for their sin. This narrative describes Jesus as light and sin as darkness. In a powerful and gracious way, God calls all to the light, but not all will choose the light.
I want my family to see our need for relationship with God and the provision of Jesus Christ that makes a way possible for us to once again walk with God. This passage shows us the reconciliation we so desperately need.
4. Matthew 22:34-40 This list would not be complete without a reference to the standard of living that God expects. Jesus summarizes the law in what He calls the "greatest" commandments. He says that "all the Law and the Prophets" hang on these two commands.
The most important pursuit for my family is to know and remember that we are to love God completely above all else. God, who loves us more than all of His creation, asks us to return that love and devotion back to Him.
The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. After committing our lives to Christ, our second mission must be declaring that same love to other people. Love God and love others, in word and deed.
5. Acts 1:6-11 In this passage Jesus first gives a promise of His return. The disciples ask if this was the time that Jesus would restore the kingdom on earth. His answer must have caught them off guard. It was not for them to know. Only the Father has the authority of the times and the seasons. The passage ends with a promise that Jesus will return one day.
Next, Jesus promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples would no longer walk with Jesus on the earth, but God would still be with them through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, Jesus commissions His disciples to be His witnesses throughout all the earth. The disciples were meant to spread the love of God and news of Jesus to all nations. And the same applies to us today. The gospel was not intended to be kept for ourselves but to be shared with all. Because of this passage, my family now has a mission.
These five passages portray the creation by God, the fall of man, the reconciliation through Jesus Christ, our mission on earth, and the hope that Jesus will return. I want my family to build our values upon these truths.
Incorporating scriptural truth into family situations is not difficult. For example, I set a goal to spend one week on each passage with my family. Through the course of each week we spent time talking about the passage, reflecting on its truth, and memorizing at age-appropriate levels. A great time to do this is at the dinner table.
Another great way to reinforce the truth of your family's most important passages is by reading the Bible together. Our family finishes most every day by reading the Scriptures just before bed. The Big Picture Story Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible are great books to read with young children. They carry the major themes of Scripture throughout the narrative. It is easy then to talk about how our family's five important passages play into each story of the Bible. We started reading The Big Picture Storybook with Isaac around his first birthday.
There is also a great option if your family enjoys watching videos. Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales, created another series called "What's in the Bible?" These videos walk through the entire narrative of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. You can then weave your family's key passages into the stories as you watch. Our job as parents is to help our kids see the bigger picture of Scripture. This is a fun and creative way to teach the Bible in your home.
It is important to know the purpose of Scripture, and to know the story that God has communicated with us. My prayer is that we never become so calloused by the accessibility of the Bible that we miss the depth of it, even if we never end up in a world like that depicted in The Book of Eli.
What five passages would you choose for your family?
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