The Bible is NOT an Instruction Manual

I’ve been studying a lot lately about the Bible and not just the Bible itself.

How meta is that?

While researching I came across a tee shirt style cliche that if you grew up in youth groups during the 90’s you’d feel right at home with.

The Bible is an instruction manual for life.

I spent a little time thinking through this phrase and started to realize that line is a horrible description of the sacred texts.

When do you pick up an instruction manual? When something is broke. You don’t buy a new refrigerator and start reading the manual because it is important. You put it in a drawer and leave it alone until the day comes that the little light won’t turn on anymore so you go to it to fix things.

There are certainly people who use the Bible that way, but you’d probably be lying to yourself if you thought that was the way God intended the Scriptures to be used.

Adding on to that, the Bible isn’t written like an instruction manual. It’s filled with stories of people interacting with God. They did everything in their relationship with God from arguing, rebelling against, yelling at, and ignoring to following, praising, and changing the world in his name.

I believe the Scriptures have more in common with a classic piece of performance art (movies, music, books) than an instruction manual.

Recently, I finished watching Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix and really connected with the main character. No one had to tell me to root for Cage. He fought for the underdog. He went against impossible odds. He found and surrounded himself with a group of people he could trust and count on. That inspires me to look for areas in my life where I can do that same thing.

Why? Because we are wired to respond more strongly to personal stories than just being told what to do.

God is the master storyteller and we’re created in his image so of course stories would resonate more deeply with us than just a Keynote presentation that has five points and all five begin with the letter “P”.



The Bible inspires us because it is a collection of stories of people who can be as dumb as we can be, who are as broken as we are, who are as in need of rescuing as we are, who are as lost and searching as we are.

And they all encountered God in a profound and life changing way.

Because stories are powerful.

Let’s see your instruction manual do that.


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