A few years ago when my wife and I were in Kenya I saw the strangest thing. On the equivalent to ‘The Today Show’ there was a photo of a commercial plane with an atlas open in the cockpit window. I would have thought that a basic knowledge of geography was a prerequisite for being a pilot. Apparently not. Still it all makes me wonder whether I want to board a plane with a pilot who doesn’t know where they are going. Would you? While it may seem strange, this image has left a mark on how I understand my Christian faith.
If you’ve been in church circles long enough then I’m guessing you’ve probably heard the Bible referred to as God’s instruction book, or a roadmap, or something similar. I don’t think that there is anything necessarily wrong with this. In a very real sense the Bible is just like an atlas to a pilot. It helps you to understand the world around us in light of our relationship with God. This is a good thing. But the question that still lingers in my mind is does a pilot need an atlas? When I drive to visit family I don’t need a roadmap. I know the way. Surely a pilot would know the routes they are flying? I guess for the pilot being able to check where you are is a good thing.
The problem I have is that the pilot of the Christian life shouldn’t need an atlas. This may sound rather shocking, after all the Bible is a vital part of walking with God. It is the very word of God. So why do I believe it isn’t needed? It’s not that it isn’t needed, but simply that the pilot doesn’t need it. When someone is truly following Jesus it means that they metaphorically invite him to be the pilot of their life. It is just like moving from the driver’s seat and letting him in. Jesus doesn’t need the Bible in the sense that a pilot may use an atlas. He is the one who is in complete control and who knows exactly the right direction to go. Such a pilot doesn’t need an atlas.
This doesn’t mean we don’t need the Bible. It helps us to understand where he is taking us. It helps us to see things his way. The Bible helps us to be able to trust Jesus as he pilots our life. So the Bible is vital, but when we read it, it is from the perspective of crew member not the pilot.
The problem is that we find it really difficult to hand over the steering wheel of our life. We may do it for a while, but often when things get tough we nudge Jesus aside and try to do the flying ourselves. Why do we do this? Do we think we know better than Jesus? The reality is that we tend to make a hash of it. We need to learn to trust Jesus to do the flying.