How to read the world's best-selling book.
I'm just going to come out and say it: Christians don't love reading the Bible.
Now before you protest that the Bible is your "favorite book" (yes, we know that's the right answer) and you read it "every day" (weekends don't count, right?), let's face reality. When was the last time you heard somebody say,
"I just can't wait to get home and read... my Bible"?
"Boy, what a page turner!"
"I wonder what Methusela will do next?!"
Never? Me too. We have unprecedented access to the bible; podcasts, apps, millions of hard copies in a version for everyone and their dog, yet we still seem to have little knowledge of what it says. My theory that explains this discrepancy is that people simply don't enjoy reading the Bible.
A stunning example of this was recently found in the men's magazine G.Q. which published an article called, "21 Books You Don't Have to Read." The twelfth book on their list was, you guessed it, the Bible. It said,
"The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned" (https://www.gq.com/story/21-books-you-dont-have-to-read).
Their suggested replacement? The Notebook.
While I would strongly disagree with their article, I find myself concerned that even G.Q. has noticed how few Christians actually read the Bible and how many Christians simply don't get it. Maybe you can relate.
This blog isn't simply about how to make the Bible relevant for everyday life through practical application and I'm not going to launch into four steps to interpreting and applying the Bible (all of which conveniently begin with the same letter). I think many well-meaning pastors have done a disservice to Christians at large by trying to make people's daily Bible reading into sermon preparation.
Rather, I would argue that the point of a Christian's daily Bible reading is about knowing Jesus through His written word.
Consider John 5:39 which says, "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me," (NIV).
It's through meditating on the word of God that we can know Jesus and enjoy His presence. This same idea is found in Psalm 1:2 and Joshua 1:8.
The starting point of reading the Bible for a Christian is not to learn or do, but to be with God.
It's through entering into God's presence by meditating on the scriptures that we leave His presence knowing how to obey. When that is your only goal, you can be set free to enjoy God's Word without the weight of expectation to "figure it all out". Instead, you can humbly go wherever the Spirit of God would lead you.
Perhaps He has something for you to do, to stop doing, or to learn. Or perhaps he has nothing specifically for you that morning except to simply pause and be with Him.
Knowing Jesus is the point and as we are with him our obedience will follow.
The temptation with this is complacency. Simply reading a few verses, checking the box, and going on with life will have us missing the point.
Here are five great questions to ask when you're reading your Bible in order to be active in seeking to know Jesus:
1. What does this passage tell me about God? God is the central character in Scripture, not man. It's only in first understanding Him that we begin to understand ourselves, God's actions and mankind.
2. Where is the hope? Hope is one of the great longing of our heart and it can be found in even the darkest points of Scripture.
3. What did this text mean to the original people receiving it? This question can really bring the text to life as you get outside of your own little world.
4. Is God saying anything specifically to me through this text? The Bible presents itself as, "living and active... piercing to the division of soul and of spirit... discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). This means that God is speaking to you through this book. In fact, as a friend of mine likes to say, "I can have a word from the Lord any time I like, curtesy of the Bible."
5. What should I do with this passage today? Don't miss this. If you fail to ask this question, you may end up exchanging your faith for unintentional hypocrisy; knowing what God wants, but never bothering to pursue it.
Approaching God's word with a desire to know Jesus and armed with these questions, The Notebook will be left in the dust as you find the truth, joy, peace, and hope that knowing Jesus through Scripture provides.