The Romans had chariots, the cowboys in the Wild West had their horses, the modern American has the mid-sized sedan (or oversized SUV for some) and West Africans have the “bush taxi.” Labeled the bush taxi more for where it goes than its appearance (they look nothing like a bush), this fine mode of transportation is the staple in this area. For inter-village travel, there are few options other than walking, and this venerable vehicle has found its niche here in the jungles of West Africa.
The bush taxi starts its life some 20 years prior to its service in Africa as a compact, European sedan. It was cheap when it was produced in 1986, so imagine it now. After a long life serving its European owner(s), and sometime just after is falls completely apart, the loosely assembled pile of car parts makes its way across the ocean in a shipping container bound for the dark continent. Here, it will serve out the remainder of its life toiling down the dirt trails these folk call roads. When I say dirt trail, I want to be sure you understand that I am referring to something that would make the moon rover cry. I simply do not know how they do it, but they do.
My most recent experience with one of these contraptions I will now relate to you. I was in the capital city, a world that would only sound like fiction if I described it. I found myself needing transport from one side of the city to the other with no car available. My option… a taxi. I headed to the nearest intersection to bargain with a driver for the fare. (I think I paid roughly 20 cents.) Upon reaching consensus on the price, he escorted me to his vehicle. It was a fine shade of rust and missing one of the windows. Covering the back windshield was a large decal of Madonna, when she was young. He then untied the rope holding the passenger door shut, as there was no handle of any kind, just a hole through the door where it used to be. I got in and he tied the door shut behind me. Upon further inspection, I realized all of the interior panels of the car were missing. It was basically ragged seats, a frame, and the sheet-metal exterior of the car. Square in the middle of the dashboard, staring back at me, was a sticker of Osama Bin-Laden with RPG launchers in the background. When the driver got in the car, he reached under the steering column and grabbed two exposed wires in order to crank it. He quickly twisted them together so the vehicle would stay running and off we went, periodically untwisting the wires when we went downhill to save on gas. By the time I arrived at my destination, another five people had climbed into the car (a total of seven in a four passenger car, not including the chickens). However, I got to my destination.
I have yet to hear a local say, after getting out of one of these death traps, “Oh, I was just going for a joy ride.” No, the gas-powered mules are solely utilitarian. As crowded as these taxis get, the ride is certainly uncomfortable and usually tiring in this equator sun with no air-conditioning. Yet, they get you to your destination.
In this series of blog posts, I have covered many different aspects of Bible study. We have discussed what the Bible is and its origins. We have talked about its purpose in the life of Christians. Furthermore, we established necessary technique for approaching the Bible in study. Yet, none of these are the destination. Stopping at simply knowing the purpose of scripture, or even finding a passage’s meaning in its original context, is like going for a joy ride in a bush taxi. Unless you, as the student of God’s Word apply what you have learned, the trip was in vain.
If you have placed a story in its historical context, and you have placed it in its literary context, then you can find the authors meaning for the time when it was written. This meaning is important and it is precious, but it is not enough. For the Bible to have its life-changing effect on you, you must bring that meaning back to today and apply it here and now.
Simply knowing Paul’s advise to the early church about meat sacrificed to idols does us little good unless we take the truth behind it and apply it to our lives today. Honestly, most of the people reading this will never be confronted with eating meat sacrificed to idols, but the truth behind it deals with our witness as Christians. That is an issue you will face every day of your life.
Find the timeless truths that rest in scripture, and then find the parallel situations that exist today. I have said it before, but a passage only has one meaning. There may be many applications that stem from that meaning. For instance, when Paul addresses those specific situations in his letters, in many instances, he provides the application to his original audience right there. Sometimes, that will be our application as well. An example is statements like, “Flee from sexual immorality.” However, other times, there is a gap in culture (like the meat issue discussed earlier).
When you find that truth and see the parallel situations, the real test is what you do with it. God’s Word is just that, the words of the one, true and living almighty God. We must, in all we do, seek to live under the authority of scripture. Without getting too philosophical about what that means, it does mean to obey it. That is the real reason for studying scripture in the first place.
Find out what it means, find out how it applies to you, and then, do what it says. That is the destination.
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