What Do You See?
In the early hours of the morning or in the quiet hours of the night, I often find myself sitting inside my little workspace at home. With a lamp giving light to what I read, I flip through pages to reflect on what people call the Bible or the Word of God (emphasis added). Some say it is important because it contains valuable lessons; for others, it’s a myth or a mere historical document. For me, it is life-giving truth that heals the broken; that strengthens the weak and hopeless. It gives wisdom to our feeble minds and transforms the hearts of sinful man.
In the book, “Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers”, Fil Anderson describes the Bible this way:
“The Word of God is not a self-help book nor a placebo to calm our fears. Neither is it just a guide to career success or greater effectiveness in ministry. It is, in truth, a love letter that invites us to be embraced by the Lover who wrote the letter. Sacred Scripture has tremendous power to free us from the mold the world squeezes us into. The God of the universe, who, in the beginning, shaped life into existence with spoken words, today speaks words meant to reshape our lives.” (Anderson, 2004)
How about you? What do you see when you set your eyes on this book that is found in almost every household? What thoughts rush into your mind when you see the Bible?
As a student privileged to study a rather extensive overview of Church History, I realize that there is much that I do not see. There is much that I do not understand. Worse, there is much I fail to appreciate.
Mr. Tyndale’s Mission
A man named William Tyndale saw what the vast majority has sorely missed and neglected when it comes to the study of Scriptures. While others’ ambitions revolved around making a living or desiring the applause of men, Mr. Tyndale was captured by a deep love for God and His divine Word.
To call this humble man “gifted” and “passionate” were seemingly mediocre terms that hardly suffice describing him. A person of his caliber should have placed a William Tyndale in prominent positions in society, yet he dedicated his life to one dangerous mission: “to make the Word of God understandable and available to the common people”. (Noll et al, 2003) Through his work in the 1500’s, he made himself a stranger to his own land. He lived as if being watched under a microscope, with threats and trials of every level hailed from authorities who profusely denied the need for the Bible’s translation from the original Greek and Hebrew to the English language, its widespread printing and distribution. (Paraphrased from Lawson, 2015)
Mr. Tyndale found himself fighting for his own life, and fighting for this very book whose message so gripped his entire being.
After a series of attempts to take him into custody for the charge of heresy, William Tyndale was lured into a trap similar to what happened between Jesus and Judas. Unfairly treated for a pursuit he knew was worth dying for, this man of God was betrayed and suffered a martyr’s death by being burned on a stake. It was noted that Mr. Tyndale, even as he awaited execution, continued to pray that people would get to see what He saw in the Word of God. (Paraphrased from Daniell, 1994) Oh, such passion for God’s timeless truth!
Changing Lenses and a Change of Heart
Take a survey of today’s landscape, and what do we see? There seems to be an endless churning from deep within that yearns for truth… yet we try hardest to find it in the wrong places.
Reflecting on William Tyndale’s life, I ask myself how this should change the way we ought to see things and the manner we conduct ourselves? It is my hope that we start by living with a higher view and a deeper appreciation of Scriptures. I need to press on in standing upon God’s Word as the foundation of my faith, the source of truth, and my compass as I navigate through my life. As a pastor and teacher, I must put premium on the thoughtful and faithful study of Scriptures as I pass it on to every listener and, by God’s grace, to the following generation. (Paraphrased from Duco, 2017)
With an English Bible on my desk, I further recognize the inexplicable pain that has been experienced to preserve the Word of God and make it so accessible to ordinary people like you and me. From the people of the biblical times, to the faithful men and women of the Protestant Reformation, and to every worker of our day who proclaims God’s timeless message in this world – I write with tears, giving praise to our God, for all of them.
So, I bring the question back to you: when you see a Bible, what do you truly see?
May the likes of William Tyndale be a source of inspiration to you and be a spark of transformation in you.
Anderson, Fil. Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers. Colorado, Springs, Colorado: Waterbrook Press, 2004. Kindle.
Daniell, David. William Tyndale: A Biography. Yale University Press, 1994.
Duco, Jim Michael S. The Life and Legacy of William Tyndale. Biography Paper, TS600: Movements in Church History, Quezon City, November 3, 2017.
Lawson, Steven. The Daring Mission of William Tyndale: A Long Line of Godly Men Profiles. Crawfordsville, Indiana: RR Donnelley and Sons, 2015. Kindle.
Noll, Mark A., Timothy Larsen and David Bebbington, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.