“ It’s too boring…”
“It’s too hard…”
“It’s not relevant…”
“I don’t get it…”
“It’s too old…”
And they go on. I’ve heard them, you’ve heard them.
Let’s face it: Reading the Bible can sometimes be a slow death experience. Maybe it hasn’t for you. But it surely has been for me.
Pastors, teachers, and well-intentioned Christians have portrayed reading the Bible as a joyous search for Mickey Mouse in Disneyland. But for me, more often than not, it has instead been a painfully cruel game of “Where’s Waldo” in Jurassic Park.
It’s been a journey, but I’ve learnt to appreciate the Bible quite a bit. It’s actually been a joyful experience! But why has reading the Bible been, and, can be such a difficult experience for many?
My dude Peter has something to say about that:
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
(1 Peter 2:1-3).
The word that had me pause is “if” in v.3.
In the Greek, this word is used as a conditional clause. That means that the facts of verse 1 and 2 are assumed to be true IF the condition for it to be true in verse 3 is valid. In other words, my dude Peter is saying that you’ll grow through the word of God IF you have experienced who God is for yourself.
This makes more sense when you see how Peter introduces the letter in chapter 1. The disciple spends a significant portion of the chapter explaining to his hearers who God is and what He has done on for, and, behalf of them. He then makes a brief appeal to the read the word of God and then introduces his next thought cluster with the verse above.
Let me put into Kevinese what Peter was maybe trying to say few centuries ago:
Reading the Bible can be so difficult for many people because they are trying to figure out WHAT God is trying to tell them before trying to figure out WHO God is to them.
The Bible is a love letter from a Father revealing His heart to His kids. Inspired by my buddy Richard Martin who shared this thought with me, if I can add something to Scripture (which I can if I want to get stoned), I would add just two words before Genesis 1:1:
Because that’s what the Bible is! From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a beautifully syncopated symphony of a Master Conductor leading the instrumentalists to compose this single line of melody that has been reverberating through the chambers of human history since the beginning of time:
But some tend to focus on the melody at the expense of forgetting the heart behind it – much like a student who is at an orchestra to write a report for credit rather than to listen to the music for enjoyment.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard the muted groans of many well-intentioned people when it comes to reading the Bible. For many, it’s been a textbook rather than a love-letter. For some, it’s been a cutlass to cut others rather than a scalpel to surgically restore their own hearts. For the longest time, The Bible has been a manual for my spiritual growth. Nothing more. Nothing less. Because of this perspective, reading the Bible became more of a chore rather than a joy for me. I may have trusted His words, but I didn’t trust the Author.
The Bible is the only book in the world where the key to unlocking it’s meaning lies in the heart of its Author.
That being said, if you’re struggling to read the Bible as I used to, here are a few things you can start doing right away:
1) Don’t be too hard on yourself
Sin has jacked up all of us since the fall. Our first parents’ innate orientation towards God and his laws has been completely and irreparably reversed by sin. While Adam and Eve enjoyed floating on the streams of God’s love prior to the Fall, we have been swimming upstream. So the reason why things of God tend to be difficult and amorphous is because our sinful human nature defies Him at every.single.level. It’s not your fault. There is an enemy. And you better give credit where credit’s due.
2) Change your perspective
The good news is that even though we have been wrecked by sin, by grace through faith, we have already moved from death into life. Christ has begun his good work in us, creating in us the desire to both will and to act according to His good pleasure. Since His work in you is conditional upon your choice to permit Him, you can now choose to change your perspective about Scripture.
Start looking for Him before looking for what He’s trying to tell you. Search for the Planner before seeking His plans. Look at Him in the face of Jesus, before hearing what he’s trying to tell you.
And the more you do this, the more you begin to see Him. The more you see him, the more you want to see him. The more you want to see Him, the more you want to spend more time with Him in Scripture.
You’ll then begin to realize that information about God will lead you to intimacy with God, and your intimacy with God will then lead you to learn more information about God.
Who’s with me?