I’ve always had a fascination with maps. My dad was a land surveyor for a power company. He frequently drew maps and would sometimes bring home old ones that had been changed and were no longer accurate. Early on I discovered a kind of pleasure in looking at and reading maps.

Maps are representations of reality. They’re designed to help you find your way in the reality that we call the world. Maps can tell you about all kinds of things: Distances, directions, locations, climate, precipitation, crops, economics, elevations, businesses, etc.

For most of us, we use maps to tell us how to get from one point to the next. They give us an idea of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about printed maps, hand drawn maps, or digital maps, they function in the same way.

In the moral sphere, we also need maps to help us get from one point to the next. Like their physical counterparts, moral maps are representations of spiritual realities. To that end, one of the best ways to think about the Bible is to view it as a map of the spiritual world. 

In many of its historical narratives, the Bible refers to geographical features of the land, including highways and streets: “The way of the wilderness” (Joshua 8.15) or “the way of the Red Sea” (Numbers 21.4) or “the street called Straight” in ancient Damascus (Acts 9.11). These were roadways used by travelers in ancient times.

The Bible also uses the same kind of terminology to describe the moral road that God’s people should travel. Psalm 1 says (verses 1 & 6), “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers… For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Notice the terminology: “walk… the path of sinners… the way of the righteous… the way of the wicked.”

The psalmist is saying that the difference between the wicked and the righteous is the map that each one follows. The righteous man follows God’s map while the wicked man follows his own map. Consequently, their destinations couldn’t be more divergent.

But we need to remember that a map is good only to the extent that it accurately represents reality. A road map that tells you that Nashville is west of Memphis isn’t reliable. But that’s why the Bible is the ultimate spiritual road map: It represents things as they really are.

So, make sure you’ve got a copy of God’s road map, make sure you examine it regularly and carefully, and above all else, make sure you’re following it.