Alright. This one might get some people riled up a bit. It hasn’t been my “blog style” to jump on a soapbox, but this time I need to. A lot of this has been on my heart and mind for a long time. It started in my “older brother days” (for an explanation of what I mean by that, check out my post, My Time Travel Testimony), but it has gotten stronger as I have grown as a Christian…even more now that I am in the process of reading the Bible all the way through.
How do I say this nicely? I don’t know if there is a way to do that. Before I just jump in, please know that I know I have three fingers pointing back at me when I point this out…but, to quote Derek Webb, I have already “turned over tables in my own living room.” I am dealing with this with myself, and I want to get it out there for others to think about to. With all of that now said, here we go.
As a Christian “culture” it is time to grow up. We really need to mature. We need to get past the “milk of God” and really start to “eat like a man.” I mean, it is time to be done with watered down versions of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. I know that most people probably go to great churches where they are fed well in the truth and knowlege of God…but what are we all doing outside of that?
Of the four things I mentioned as watered down, I want to focus on the Bible. The Bible is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Through the Holy Spirit, it is the source of our knowledge of God. It is one of the three pillars that the Spirit uses to grow and disciple us in our faith (the other two being the Spirit speaking to our hearts and speaking to us through other people–i.e. the Church). Most of us have the chruch and even the personal side of the Spirit down, but are we truly seeking God through the Bible?
I am not talking about a devotional with scripture at the end. I am not talking about memory verses (though I am not knocking those). I am not even talking about Christian music that is scripturally-based. I am talking about the pure, unadulterated Word of God.
God does not really come in Tweet-sized pieces. I am not downgrading Twitter. I am just saying that we treat God like he is using Twitter in our approach to the Bible oftentimes in our lives. We want the little pieces. Little shots. But God works as a whole. He is not Twitter, he is more like a thousand page novel (in comparison).
Through my life I have met a lot of people who are great at quoting verses. I have heard great sermons based on small pieces of Scripture. I have read awe-inspiring stories based on clips from the Bible. But very rarely have I been challenged to read the Bible from cover to cover and learn who my God really is.
When I was in college the first time (long story), I was a Christian Studies major. I was in mostly religious classes. The whole time I was there (all four years), I was only pushed to read the Bible through by one person. Was it my Bible professors? No. My fellow pre-seminary religion majors? Nope. My Christian friends or the Baptist Student Union? No and no. It was my professor from the English classes I took. Dr. Sepko. She put out the challenge to all of the Christian Studies majors in a class I took of hers to read the Bible all the way through. No one in the class had.
Over the years I have tried from time to time to do this. I have always fallen short. My motivation was that I need to read it through to say that I have. That did not help me get through Leviticus and the Kings. I would always get bored there and eventually give up. I tried One Year Bibles, and the same thing happened. It wasn’t until I went through the transformation and awakening early this year (see My Time Travel Testimony) and after reading Radical that I really WANTED to read through the Bible because I wanted to be closer to God. I wrote my about this in my post called “What’s in a Name? Jesus, Jesus, bo Bes…”
My point is this, when we are just reading parts and pieces of the Bible, we are missing the fullness of who he is. I have been completely amazed by how susinct the Bible actually is. I will read something in the Old Testament that will tie directly into what I read next in the New Testament. It is so cool. There are themes that start coming out that make God’s character so apparent. You even start to see, through the Old Testament, that Jesus was the plan since the beginning. God is big. God is huge. And he does not fit into twitter-type sound bites.
Let me challenge you like Dr. Sepko challenged me (and later David Platt did through Radical). Commit to reading the Bible through. You don’t have to do it in a year. Just commit to starting and finishing. It will change you. I mean really change your entire being and relationship to God. Pray about doing this.
Let me give you a few pieces of advice that I learned the hard way.
- Find a translation that is solid but very readable for you. I am a big fan of the New Living Translation. It gets high marks as a translation and is very, very easy to read.
- Get a One Year Bible. These Bibles break it down into an easy program to follow with tips on how you can read it or take longer than a year to read it.
- Pray! Pray through it as you read. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, he WILL help you understand it. I promise. You just have to trust him.
- Read the book, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. This was a game changer for me in how to read the Bible for understanding.
- When you have questions about something you read, ask somebody. Also, the internet has been a great tool for me as I read. There is a lot of information out there that will help things make more sense.
- Last, if you are willing to put your money where your mouth is to take this sersiously, get an ereader. Reading the Bible on the ereader has helped me so much. Everything is in one column like a regular book. The font is as big as you want it, and it is easy to read and get immersed in what you are reading.
Let me know if you want to take this challenge. I would love to pray for you in this.
What do you think? Is this a challenge you would like to take on? Have you already done this? How has it affected your life?
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