why we don't read our bibles, why we should, and how we do it
everybody hold on to your hats, I'm about to explain a few things:
1. Why we don't read our Bibles
2. Why we probably should
3. How we're supposed to do that
I know, I know. I'm not talking about you. You wake up every single morning at 5:30am and have gone through your Bible-in-a-year plan for the past 10 years without fail. So don't worry, I'm not talking to you. That's awesome!
I'm talking to the rest of us:
The well-meaning Christians,
the on-the-fence Christians,
the Christians that run from place to place from 5am to 11pm and just don't have time to stop and read your Bibles,
the people who grew up in a somewhat "Christian" home but it's kind of gotten away from you a little bit (on purpose or not),
the Christians who open their Bible maybe once or twice or maybe even three times through the week at 2pm because you've been meaning to get to it (this one is me),
the Christians who just straight up don't read their Bible unless it's on their smartphone or projector screen on Sunday mornings,
heck, even the people who aren't Christians and are just curious.
Yeah, hey you. Welcome. Glad you're here.
1. Why we don't read our Bibles.
I think I could write out the list of excuses of what a lot of Christians would say if I took a poll on why we don't get into reading our Bibles. Time, googling verses is a thing so why care, it's confusing and difficult, it's boring, etc.
here it is: we don't read the Bible because we don't like it.
*gasps* *glass shatters* *preachers faint everywhere*
We don't read the Bible because we don't like it. It's true. We don't like the Bible. We effortlessly make room for what we like and love. No one, not one person on our own, wakes up and goes:
"I just like the Bible so much. I can't wait to read the Bible all day. It's my favorite thing to do."
I'm not saying we can't have this desire. I'm saying this desire is not ours.
The pastors in the biggest mega-churches don't have this desire on their own. I promise.
Let's break this down a little more:
Every single human being has what Paul talks a lot about -- the Flesh. Kind of a weird word. But our Flesh is the part of us that desires to pull us away from God and towards self-fulfillment and self-exaltation.
The more we become aware of this part of ourselves, the more we see it present in ourselves.
Our Flesh is the reason that, while we are no longer under the authority of sin (Romans 6), we still do sin. There is still that part of us that wants to satisfy ourselves more than be closer with God. Everyone has it and it is ever-present.
What is actually crazy is when we're surprised that our Flesh doesn't want to read the Bible. We're surprised or annoyed or whatever that some of us would much rather watch Netflix or scroll through the endless black hole of facebook videos than read our Bible or do whatever we would rather do with our time than read our Bibles. There are some of us that spend time feeling guilty because we don't read our Bible more.
Friends, we shouldn't be shocked by the fact that we don't inherently want to read our Bibles. This is the default of ourselves that we should be aware of, not a place of shame in our lives.
Our hesitancy against spending time in scripture makes all of the sense in the world. We are sinful people, why would we expect our nature to enjoy reading something that clashes violently against what our Flesh wants us to preserve?
Why would it shock us that satan would work through our Flesh to make the Bible seem boring, difficult, and uninteresting?
One of the great evidences of God active in the lives of people is that there are people who genuinely love the Word of God -- but that desire is not their own. It's the Holy Spirit shifting their desires, from prayer and an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. When we become more like Christ through His teaching, our desires shift. And that's still not our doing.
We don't like to read the Bible, and we're constantly asking it to do things that it doesn't do.
2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear." This verse insinuates that as time goes on, what our Flesh wants to hear is not scripture.
There are probably going to be people out there that disagree with me. This isn't a popular perspective. It is unpopular because we perpetuate a culture of acting like our Bible reading isn't solely the result of unfailing power and peace of the Holy Spirit.
We don't like to read the Bible, and that's just not the point.
It doesn't matter if we like it, y'all, we have to read it anyway.
So let's take a deep breath, give ourselves grace in this area, and look forward to how we can practically do this thing knowing what we know.
2. Why we should read the Bible
I probably don't have to convince you that the Bible has value. There are atheists out there that would most likely agree with that sentiment. This also isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the reasons, just a few.
- There is so much evidence to back up the credibility of the Bible. People try to back up the Bible by saying "the Bible says the Bible is true". There is so much more evidence than this. There are full courses taught on it, so there is no way I could go through it all. But here's a few:
There was a real historical person of Jesus that can't be argued (secular historians will back this up), most scholars believe there are up to 300 prophecies (and idk probably more) that are written in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled, and the Dead Sea Scrolls were found as early as 1947 which were Old Testament writings dated before Jesus walked the earth.
There are an incredible number of surviving copies of original Biblical writings. These copies are called manuscripts, and there are roughly 6,000 surviving manuscripts for the New Testament alone. This makes it the best attested document of all ancient writings. The next closest contender is Homer’s The Iliad, which has only 600 existing copies. More than Shakespeare, more than Plato and Aristotle, etc. etc.
When it comes to the New Testament, it is important to know that the gospels were recorded relatively soon after the events which they record. At the very latest, the four gospels were written 40-60 years after Jesus’ resurrection. While this may seem like a great deal of time between the events and the writings, it is helpful to note that these dates are incredibly early for ancient documents.
These are just a few evidences of the Bible's validity and reliability, and evidence continues to be found as time goes on.
- We are guided by His word. We look to where scripture addresses the clearly wrong and clearly right. We are no longer under authority of the law (Romans 6), but the law does point us to who God is. It's when people use the Bible for things that the Bible doesn’t address – that’s where we’re wrong. We want to look for what the Bible actually addresses, and this is one reason why we should actually read it for ourselves.
- We can't tell people about Jesus if we don't know what we're talking about -- see my post about this here ----> The Man in Michaels
- We learn more about the Gospel and our Creator. (Yeah, seems obvious, hang with me) We read the Old Testament and all about the laws and covenants. The law is also there to show us that we could never measure up and we could never fulfill the law even at our very best. Then we read about God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ. It makes the Gospel even sweeter to truly understand the full narrative. That we could never make it without Jesus' sacrifice. From beginning to end. Our Creator’s heart is also in those pages, it just takes time and effort to sit with them.
"The Son of God was not created but took part in creation and has lived throughout all eternity 'in the bosom of the Father' (John 1:18) -- that is, in a relationship of absolute intimacy and love. But at the end of his life he was cut off from the Father. [...] We cannot fathom...what it would be like to lose not just spousal love or parental love that has lasted several years, but the infinite love of the Father that Jesus had from all eternity. Jesus' sufferings would have been eternally unbearable. Christian theology has always recognized that Jesus bore, as the substitute in our place, the endless exclusion from God that the human race has merited." Timothy Keller
3. How are we supposed to do this...?
Yeah, yeah, Allison, I get what you're saying. But how do I actually do it?
Being on the receiving end of salvation is a "passive" thing. We do nothing to work for or earn that.
Following Christ is not a "passive" thing. We don't accidentally fall into an intimate relationship with God. It doesn't happen. Our Flesh will pull us towards ourselves and our comfort and interests 100% of the time.
To put a weird metaphor on it that may not completely be true -- it's like trying to learn how to like broccoli. (I actually like broccoli, I don't know why that was the first food to pop into my head). So you force yourself to eat broccoli, and you're not a super-fan. But then eventually as you eat it more and more, your taste buds shift to where you don't mind it and then eventually like it. You may train yourselves to love it and maybe crave it. Obviously that's not with the power of God (maybe, who knows), but that's how I kind of view Bible reading in this way that I'm about to explain.
1) Have a space and time: Make yourself a space that is specifically for your Bible reading. Make it cozy, make it distinguished. Leave your phone out of it. Carve out a specific time in the day that you're going to wake up and do it. I know some people will say you don't have to do it in the morning. But I'm telling you to get up and do it in the morning. I promise it's better. Don't pretend you are about to make your Bible reading time 3pm or after dinner. (I mean do what you want, I guess, but this is my advice.)
2) Have a plan: For the love of goodness, give yourself a reading plan. Find it somewhere. I'll link a few below. Flipping to a random book or verse may work sometimes, but will eventually be ineffective. Having a consistent reading time begins with finding a plan you can follow. Also, find a plan that isn't just one verse with a paragraph long commentary. Find a plan that has more scripture than commentary. If we're reading more commentary from an author than scripture, we're using the wrong reading plan. Google it and stick to one, I promise it will help so much with consistency.
(I googled aimlessly to find these, and they were the first ones to come up.)
3) Have all the tools: Go get a specific journal that you use specifically for when you are reading your Bible. Go get a specific pen that you use if you have to. Whatever helps you designate that time, do it. And for the love of all that is good, get a hard copy Bible.
Get a hard copy Bible.
Get a hard copy Bible.
If you are reading your Bible on your smart phone, it's time to put that lil guy down and get a Bible. Just some tough love, friends. Do it. There is just nothing better about reading your Bible on your phone. Get that actual book. Also — if you don’t have a hard copy bible that is on your reading level, get one that you can understand. If you can’t understand the KJV, get an ESV or NASB or something similar.
One of my favorite quotes is from one of my professors when he said, "The best translation of the Bible that you can get is the one you read." So there you go.
If you're still with me by this point, that is so cool, because this has been a longer one.
TLDR; Contrary to popular belief, we don't like the Bible, but that doesn't matter. We read it anyway because it has eternal value. We read it anyway by making an intentional effort to do so, asking God to shift our desires away from ourselves and towards a life lived for Him.
(Get a hard copy Bible. :) )