I have always thought of the Word of God as “alive.” But I considered it a metaphor of some kind, since, for instance, my Bible never stands up and walks out the door. So, I figured the “Living Word” must be a word picture to describe something else. But this work of translating the gospel and the church into a culture that does not have the physical Bible has forced me see my error.
The Word of God is alive, in reality, because it lives in believers. It lives in me. The sense of this image is confirmed all over the Bible. Paul says, “You are my living letters….” In the new covenant in Jeremiah God says, “I will write my Law on your hearts….” The church is described as “living stones.” Are there other examples? Maybe, “we have this treasure hidden in earthen vessels….” Oh yeah, and how could I have missed this: “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” So the fullest representation of the Word of God was, and is… a person.
The key here is that the Bible and the Word of God are two distinct things. The first is a book, like any other in most respects. By that I mean it has pages, words, a cover, you open and close it. The object itself is not alive. But when the contents of that physical book make their way into a living human heart, it can remake broken people, families and entire cultures.
The reason for the mish-mashed blog title, “Church Translating Bible Planters,” is that we think you can work on getting a Bible into a new language, and see the Word of God take root in new believers and new churches… at the same time.
Why did these too tasks become so specialized that they parted ways? It’s probably unfair, but personally, I blame Henry Ford.