25 Feb 2017
So maybe you are willing to accept that God exists, maybe you think you might get to know and understand God through the person of Jesus. But what about the Bible?
Surely we don't need to read these bizarre and ancient texts, especially the bits about smiting people and being cast into places of wailing and gnashing of teeth?
I have to say I've spent a lot of my life feeling highly suspicious of the Bible and even more so of people who take it completely literally and see it as inerrant.
The Bible is a human construction and that, in many ways, is what makes it so wonderful and fascinating. It tells us with great passion and honesty how the people of ancient Israel and of early Christianity felt and how they experienced God.
But that's not the end of the story.
As well as being a wholly human construction, the Bible is also wholly divine. And what I mean by that is that it is the one sure way that God speaks to us.
I can remember a time when one of my children was a baby. She was very slow at feeding - so I always made sure I had something to read when I sat down to feed her (yes, I know good mums don't do that - it interferes with the bonding..) Well, one time I forgot to get a book and I'd already started feeding and couldn't stop - so I glanced around looking for something - anything! - to read. And the only thing within reach was my husband's Bible.
I sighed, picked it up and said, 'Oh well, I'll just have to read THIS' - like it was worse than reading a telephone directory (remember those?)
I knew enough about the Bible (or so I thought at that time) to avoid reading the Old Testamemt so I turned to the beginning of the New Testament and started reading Matthew's Gospel.
There's no other way of describing what happened next other than to say I was gripped.
I fed the baby, she was fast asleep, I plonked her into her cot - but still I went on reading. I kept thinking why on earth have I not read this before? How could I have had this wonderful book in the house and not realised how amazing it is? I carried on reading and reading until eventually I had to get ready to pick up the older children from school. Then I closed it and kissed it. That's right - you read that correctly. I kissed it.
I kissed it because it felt such a blessing and also because it had spoken to me - just like a kind and wise friend. 'Enter through the narrow gate,' it said. 'For the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.'
I knew absolutely that it was the voice of God. And that I had to find that narrow gate.
But it would be a long time before I did that...