Quite often we, as Christians, are tasked to consider how we should live, and how we should relate to our Creator, and to each other, and to the world at large. We have a wealth of information provided to us in the Bible, and the (hopefully) obvious suggestion would be to go and study, and learn therefrom.
Consider the following examples: Adam, the father of us all, King David, and Elijah.
Adam had a perfect relationship with God before the fall. He stands as an example of what humanity was meant to be, and how we were intended to relate to God. There are so few verses describing this state, and yet we see an idyllic world. The more adventurous of us might take issue with what would seem to be a boring and challenge-less lifestyle; in fact, we know so little about that world that one cannot honestly assess it properly. Nonetheless, we see how things could have been, without Sin.
King David, larger than life, colorful beyond Hollywood, famous and possessing riches beyond measure, is described as a “man after God’s own heart.” He was far from flawless, but that in itself stands as a testimony to the potential we have. If David sinned and was forgiven, can we not also be forgiven? David’s life is a standard to which we can aspire as leaders, as worshippers, and as fallen-and-forgiven members of the family of God.
Then we have Elijah. The prophet, appearing shortly after the reign of King David, provides a bit of a glimpse of the mystery and supernatural attributes of God. It is Elijah who calls fire from heaven to consume his offering, and his sarcastic jabs at the prophets of Baal warm my contrarian heart (“is your God perhaps busy taking a crap?”), as are his frequent run-ins with the government, that being King Ahab. More importantly, he prefigures Christ in that he restores life to a widow’s son, and is caught up in fire and taken to Heaven. His life was, in many ways, as colorful and turbulent as was David’s, and Elijah offers us some ideas of how living for God might not consist of (solely) piety and quite contemplation. Elijah was noisy, rebellious, and unwavering in his devotion to God.
There are many examples of people we should emulate. Ruth, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Joseph, Mary, Paul the apostle, St. Peter… Why did I choose these three? More importantly, why did I not choose any examples from the New Testament?
Consider Elijah and David. They did not have the New Testament as a roadmap for living. They did not have many of the writings of the prophets (Elijah was a prophet). David didn’t have the Psalms as a pattern of worship; in many ways, he invented worship. Abraham had little more than the direct words from God himself, as did Moses. Adam had nothing, other than his direct interation with God.
What would we do today, as children of God, if we didn’t have the words of Paul? If we didn’t have the written words of Jesus? What would we sing, if we didn’t have the Psalms as source material? If we had none of the prophecies? How would we know how to live?
We take for granted, an immeasurable wealth, uncountable riches, these words of God which are available to all of us. How many Bibles do we have, untouched? We can, in a few seconds, call up any scripture we like, in any of scores of translations, thanks to search engines.
What if we had none of that? How would we live?
Adam, David, and Elijah knew. How much of a shame is it, that we struggle to live, even to a tenth as they did, when we have the instruction manual at our fingertips, as they did not?