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April 27, 2017

The Bible as a Whole

By Daniel Im

The Bible According to Talladega Nights

One of the more humorous scenes in the movie Talladega Nights, is the one where Ricky Bobby says grace prior to a meal. In this scene, he persistently prays to “Baby Jesus.” About halfway through the prayer, Ricky’s wife interrupts him to let him know that Jesus did grow up and that it is weird to pray to a “baby.” This interruption leads to a discussion mid-prayer about the type of Jesus people prefer or picture—whether it be the “Teenage Jesus,” “Grown-up Jesus,” “Bearded Jesus,” “Tuxedo Jesus,” or “Ninja Jesus.”

Some of you may be shocked to know that this Canadian knows about this movie. (Hey, what can I say? I’m trying to be cultural now that I live in Tennessee. I hear Southerners love that movie; so, I guess you can say that I’m being contextual.) Some may wonder why I bring up that movie? I think it is a perfect example of how many in our culture view or approach Jesus with very little reverence. Rather than allowing Jesus to establish how one should view or understand Him, many in our culture take the liberty to do it themselves. When people craft Jesus into their preferences, they diminish and dumb down His glory, beauty, majesty, and sovereignty.

In one of our Ministry Grid Training videos, Jonathan Akin, addresses how people do to the Bible what Ricky Bobby and his family did to Jesus—they take the liberty to read and interpret the Bible the way they want to rather than the way Jesus would have them to.

According to Jonathan, many people view or teach the Bible as a set of principles to live by. For example, they’ll divide the characters within the biblical narrative as either bad people to avoid or good people to emulate—with Jesus being the ultimate example. And by doing so—avoiding wicked behavior like the bad characters and emulating morality displayed by the good characters—people believe they will be accepted by God.

The Bible is not just a set of principles to live by. 

Here’s the problem with such a belief system: it’s not what the Bible teaches. The reality is that the Bible teaches that we’re all bad and Jesus is the only good. There is no one good, no not one (Romans 3:10–11); every human being has missed the mark of perfection and is owed the wage of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But Jesus, isn’t just the ultimate example, He is the exalted Savior/King who came and lived a perfect life and who gave His life as the perfect sacrifice and substitute for all sinful humanity. It’s what many deem the “Great Exchange”—Jesus’ life for ours.

When people see the Bible as principles to live by rather than one big story about Jesus, two problems are bound to occur.

First, according to Jonathan, it confuses people that they have to be good in order for God to accept them. The question one should ask in embracing such a principle is, “How good is good enough?” which is also the title of one of Andy Stanley’s books. The reality is, moralism leads people to wear themselves out trying to be good enough because they never know if they’ve done enough good to outweigh the bad.

To read the remainder of the article, and to watch the Ministry Grid training video, click here

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  • Many people do to the Bible what Ricky Bobby did to Jesus.
  • Many people view or teach the Bible as a set of principles to live by rather than one big storyline about Jesus. —@Jonathanakin
  • Moralism leads people to wear themselves out to be good enough because they never know if they’ve done enough good.
  • When people read the Bible as more a set of rules, principles, or guidelines, they become the main character of the Bible, not Jesus.
  • Having the centrality of Jesus as the focal point of the Bible prevents people from taking the liberty to distort the Scriptures.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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