Did you hear? Costco has labeled the Bible as fiction.
Now what has that got to do with anything? I would say nothing really.
However, I’m not sure any label would actually do justice to what the Bible is. Literature? Anthology? Non-Fiction? Inspiration? Religion? Self-Help? Myth? Legend? Home Decor?
All of these fit someone’s use of the Bible.
What is being missed in this concern over Costco’s (mis)labeling of the Bible as fiction is that Costco is still selling Bibles. Did you hear me? Costco is selling Bibles. If Costco has some grand scheme to discredit the Bible, would it not be just as easy not to sell Bibles?
So, now, let’s get on to something more productive, like loving our enemies, forgiving those who wrong us, helping the poor . . . you know the kind of stuff imagined in the Bible.
The Bible is the grand narrative of the mission of God. From beginning to end, God is on a mission to reclaim his creature and even the creative order. We might summarize this mission as: God’s mission is to form a distinct people to live His Life for the sake of the world.
In the Old Testament, God sought to form a “distinct” people from the descendants of Abraham. After promising to form a people from Abraham’s descendants, God will rescue them from Egypt under the leadership of Moses to lead them to the promised land where they are to live a God-kind of life, but not just for their own good but so that the nations around might catch a glimpse of who the true God really is. The Old Testament story is really a sad story, a tragedy even. The nation of Israel never really joins God on His mission, even though God sent prophet after prophet to point the way.
However, God did not give up. He sent his Son to show people how to participate in God’s mission. Jesus gathered around himself disciples who would take up the mission of God after he had ascended to Heaven and sent the Spirit of God to empower them and to guide them. Jesus constituted a distinct people on Pentecost known today as the church. Those who belong to Jesus have accepted the call to join God in his mission.
One constant theme in this story is the notion of sending: God sent Abraham to Canaan, God sent Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, God sent prophets to redirect the nation of Israel, and God sent his Son. His Son, in turn, sent the Holy Spirit to the community of believers gathered at Pentecost. Jesus then sent his disciples to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the outermost reaches of the world. Now it’s our turn accept God’s call to send us.