Maybe you've noticed those lists of books that come out each summer, recommending what people should read when they're on vacation or hanging out at home with free time.
How would you react to a list that included stories like the following? "A heartwarming tale of faithful friendship, in which a young woman overcomes her struggles and finds what love really is." . . . "An epic saga! Find out how one man endures family betrayal, passion's fury, and prison, and winds up living among royalty." . . . "He had it all-the wealth most people only dream of. But his life was a bankruptcy."
These are not descriptions of the latest in pulp fiction. They are just a few of the stories found in the Bible. Even though people have always read the Bible, you probably haven't heard your friends recommending it as a real page turner for the poolside. Well, maybe it's worth a look anyway. Incidentally, the first description given above was of the short, easy-to-read book of Ruth; the second told about Joseph (see Genesis, chaps. 37-45); and the third was from a parable Christ Jesus taught (see Luke 15:11-32).
The Bible is an interesting book, and it has a way of really sticking with you-you find you want to go back and read its stories more than once. It's a book about life, and it covers all the subjects people are interested in in 1997. And even more than that, the Bible might be called the ultimate self-help book. When you read it (or read some of it, anyway, because you don't have to read all of it at once), the stories and messages show you how to help yourself live a happier, healthier, more successful life. Bible stories have power behind them.
The woman who founded this newspaper wrote something pretty simple and profound about the Bible: "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power" (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 131). She couldn't have made that statement if she hadn't known the Bible pretty well.
"Spiritual power" is the power of God -the power of good. And seeing how and why spiritual power is superior to physical power is valuable in making sense of existence. It helps you and me to find good instead of bad, health instead of sickness, and love instead of hate. The Bible shows the power of God in many different ways.
Jesus' life story is shown in four different Bible books. These books tell about a huge number of ways in which Jesus helped people who were sick, confused, hungry, and miserable. There's one account in the book of John that tells how Jesus brought one of his friends, who had been dead for four days, back to life (see 11:1-44).
After having read the Bible over time, I have come to see that there's more to get from it than just information or entertainment. The stories don't get old, even if you've read them over and over. Spiritual power was behind all of the good that Moses and Elijah and Elisha and Jesus (and many others) brought to the world, and it comes out when you read the Bible. The words take on incredible significance because they show that spiritual power is something that is ours, too! The Bible discusses the superiority of good over evil again and again, from beginning to end, in astounding ways. Jesus showed clearly that we all can learn to pray, and thereby to experience more good in our lives. Reading the Bible leads to feelings of happiness. It brings the conviction that you are good, and that you have a God-given purpose. You know you're not just reading a collection of stories when you get that kind of inspiration!
That book quoted earlier, Science and Health (the textbook of Christian Science), includes the Key to the Scriptures. As a key opens a door, it opens the Bible and shows how we can all practice finding and having spiritual power and healing. I can read the Bible and, with the help of Science and Health, see why God's power is the only power, and why it is not only spiritual but also essential, intelligent, beautiful, lively, truthful, and loving. I can learn how to express the qualities of God in my own thoughts and actions, bringing out more good in my life and in the lives of others through His power.
That's just one way I'm helped by having a key to the Bible. It's just one reason why I would recommend adding Science and Health to your reading list as well.