What are we doing wrong with The Book?

“Statistics show that most people professing faith in Christ have never completely read their Bible. Many people start reading but then become overwhelmed by the number of chapters (1,189) and verses (31,102) there are. What we don’t realize is that it can be accomplished by reading fewer than four chapters a day!

By dividing the Bible into 365 daily readings, your goal of reading the Bible in a year can easily be accomplished. Here in Bible Study Tools, not only can you come and read on a daily basis, but we can help you chart your progress online over the following 365 days. That means you don’t have to wait till the New Year?you can start today!”

I have been feeling extremely contemplative about the Bible the last week or so – if that makes sense. I had a small, but convicting discussion with a friend – where we chatted about how excited people get about any book they have enjoyed, EXCEPT the Bible. Why does no one rave about their reading in Isaiah?

I have been thinking about why I know that if it were “the only book I could bring on a deserted island” (we’ve all played that game, right?) it would be the Bible. And yet, why am I not delighting in it everyday?

I have to be honest – I have gobbled up four books in the last two weeks – all good books, all “spiritual” books, but I still have not finished 1 Corinthians that I started late last week. Why is that? I love it once I am in to it, why do I put it off? I think there are a few reasons; I suppose these are personal reasons – maybe you can think of more.

1. It’s going to convict.
One of the things I struggle with, in my own personality, is the willingness to deceive myself, to not have to deal with things. I layer my problems, and my feelings, and my thoughts, sometimes intentionally, in order to be less accountable to myself. Which is, of course, being deceived by Satan – because God knows even our motives, and I will be held accountable for even this on the last day. But the point is – the Bible is the only book that demands change. I can be convicted by other books on pride, or marriage, or being a friend – but can ultimately dismiss anything I don’t like as the author’s opinion. Once I open up the Bible, I sense change coming… and I resist. I could get in to why the pleasures of God would be greater than all the things I substitute in its place – but I’ll save that for another blog. Or refer you to one of my first – it’s all about mud puddles. Suffice it to say – the Lord wants to change us, to conform us to the image of His Son – and we know what that looks like when we open up the Bible – not other books.

2. Our approach.
What other book do we approach with a bare-minimum mentality? Seriously – the quote on the top of this page essentially says – “here’s how you can read the LEAST amount possible, and still get through the Bible in a year.” What kind of benchmark is that? What other book have you read, where the goal is to take a year to get through it? And yet – we have it in our heads that the Bible is meant to be enjoyed at 15 minute intervals once a day, every day. We want to space out our readings. And, I think the problem with this is it just joins our checklist of to-dos. Washed dishes? Check. Did a load of laundry? Check. Made the beds? Check. Read my daily reading of the Bible? Check. We don’t go to it because we delight in it, we go to it because we should go to it. And we all know that the results of doing things because we ought to are very different than doing things because we want to.

I am uncertain at this point as to how best address this in my own life. I think it starts with a bit of a mental shift – I have to repent of the desire to not want to be changed, and I have to approach the Bible as the Book, not the greatest devotional ever written….

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bishop
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 08:40:19

    But the point is – the Bible is the only book that demands change. I can be convicted by other books on pride, or marriage, or being a friend – but can ultimately dismiss anything I don’t like as the author’s opinion. Once I open up the Bible, I sense change coming… and I resist.

    I won’t argue the exclusivity issue here (for the obvious reasons), but I think the point made is quite interesting. And dead on the mark. I think that any text that purports to be a direct or inspired communication from the divine (to remain neutral on the subject) should convict in some way. It should clearly demand unavoidable change. And as human beings, ultimately ignorant of our Self in relation to the divine except as fallen (however one wishes to define that), we naturally avoid anything that would push us outside our self-induced blindness and comfortable bliss of ignorance.

    Great posts of late (or, rather, since I started reading). I’m loving these musings you keep posting!

    Reply

  2. Nicole
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 08:50:44

    Thanks Bishop. I appreciate knowing you’re here…

    Reply

  3. Dr Mike
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 08:58:54

    Nicole:

    I’ve been lurking here awhile, staying quiet because I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile or profitable to add to the discussions. But I’ll break my silence with what I hope will be of some help.

    Due to our condition, even subsequent to salvation and lordship, we do not always give the Holy Spirit free reign as we read Scripture. Yes, the Bible is inspired but the activity of the Holy Spirit is necessary if illumination is going to take place. For whatever reasons – and they are legion, I suspect – we sometimes quench the Spirit in our reading.

    I think one of the reasons for this is that the words of the text become stale to our eyes: we’ve read them so many times and know what is coming as we read the narratives or letters that it is impossible to generate any suspense or expectancy as we read. Underlining, highlighting, color-coding, and other practices only add to the difficulty.

    Sometimes reading a different translation helps me navigate out of the doldrums, but not very often. The biggest help for me has been to study the book in more depth, i.e., to read background materials (such as the IV Background Commentary) or articles from various seminaries.

    But reading a commentary (e.g., Lane on Mark in the NICNT series, Moo on Romans in the same series, Garland on 1 Corinthians in the BECNT series) breathes life back into whatever book I am reading. I learn tremendously and am given a lot to think about, and when I return to the text it is never the same again. I used to find Mark a bit stark and dry, for example, but after reading Lane it is one of my favorite NT books. Gifted teachers have a way of opening new vistas on old books.

    Well, I hope something in this helps. Know that your situation is far from unique but is only found in those who take God and their faith seriously.

    Reply

  4. Nicole
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:52:06

    Thanks for the advice – I appreciated your thoughts on theologica, and know you offer sound advice. I am starting to appreciate commentaries as books, and not just as tools to understand one or two verses – they definately help!

    I know I quench the Spirit in the way I read sometimes – it’s good to know I am not alone in that too though…..

    Reply

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