Living Without the Instruction Manual

Yes, everyone knows it: men don’t read instruction manuals. They somehow feel that they’ve either got it all down, or they’re smart enough that they don’t need them, or that they can do just as well by figuring out things as they go along. Consequently, our culture is filled with stories of how badly things go wrong when men fail to read the manual.

For those who can remember back to the eighties, there was even a television series based solely on one premise: a man living without the instruction manual. The sci-fi comedy/drama The Greatest American Hero featured a schoolteacher who was given a mysterious alien super suit. His only problem: he lost the instruction manual. So, every show was about him desperately trying to use this amazing suit with incredible powers, but always comically messing up because he didn’t have the instruction manual to read. Every week millions of people across America tuned in to watch a guy with the capability to do supernatural stuff fail over and over.

Guess what? That story is more than just a TV show— it’s really the story of the church in America. You see, as Christians we have more than a dorky looking super suit: we have a regenerated soul indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We have the ability to lead truly supernatural lives: to be supernaturally loving, wise, joyful, and self-controlled.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t we leading supernatural lives? Could it be that part of the problem is that we aren’t paying enough attention to the instruction manual?

Yes, we have the most incredible “instruction manual” ever written: the Bible. In its pages we can learn all that we need to know about God, about ourselves, and about the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. We have all the directions to the “super suit” that God has given us in the new birth. And yet, research studies show that less than 1 in 10 Americans who identify themselves as being born-again have a Biblical worldview.

John Eldredge once wrote, “I need to study the Word of God with all the intensity of the men who studied the maps of the Normandy coastline before they hit the beaches on D-Day.” Do we really have that heart-felt intensity, to study the Bible for all that its worth? Or are we stumbling clumsily through life unable to fly, just because we aren’t studying God’s instruction manual?

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