In the last post we looked at why we don’t read the bible and hopefully you saw that some of the ways we view the bible are not helpful. But once we realise that we are not at the center of the bible and we read it because we want to know more of Christ, how then do we go about reading the bible?
May I share with you some ideas that have helped me? Remember this is in a realm of no guilt, we read for the pleasure of feasting on the word because it points to our beautiful saviour, not because we feel like we are reading it to please God.
Firstly I would start reading this wonderful article that turned my bible reading on its head.
There are two things that astounded me:
1. You can just read the bible, like a novel.
2. You can read in community
When I first heard that this guy read the bible like a novel I did ask myself – “Are you allowed to do that?” I mean this is scripture, holy words – can I just read it like Lord of the Rings? Shouldn’t I be studying every sentence and its context and implications on my life? I think this is where the guilt seeps in – I know of a scripture meditation technique where they would take a couple of verses and just meditate on it and wait for the Holy Spirit tell you what it means in your life. So I was in a group doing this and I waited… and I waited… and I waited… and well when it came to my turn to share my thoughts, I found that this just wasn’t working because I didn’t have anything. (Actually just made something up… which I wouldn’t recommend). But again I find this founded on the idea of scripture is all about *me*… and it’s not. So when I started just reading scripture, reading through the chapters from Genesis to Revelation like a novel, I found that I was enjoying the story, things were starting to piece together, I learnt more about who Jesus was and I felt no pressure to try and draw something out of it. And there is nothing that says we can’t read the bible like a novel, we arn’t being dis-respectful at all. That doesn’t mean we don’t do bible studies, because we do and its good to do – there are times when I get to a point in my bible reading where I don’t understand something and I will stop and dig deeper. But for our “quiet time”, for our enjoyment to know more of Christ we can just sit and read about him and how he interacts with his people.
The second thing is that you can read the bible in community. There is an idea that our bible reading is private and “my time” with God. But what if we could share what we are reading with some other people and encourage them and be encouraged by them. In the article it describes how Ron does this – he chooses reading partners, they go away and read through a book in the bible and come back and chat about what they have been reading. Reading in community means accountability, sharing what we are learning, encouragement and also sharing our struggles and questions! I am sold on this idea. So myself and the lovely Emily are reading the bible together. We have date for when we are going to Skype each other and chat through what we have been reading. I am looking forward to it. I am looking forward to sharing Jesus with her and for her to share Jesus with me… it’s going to be good.
So why don’t you give it a go?
Start in Genesis and read as many chapters as you want a day… its not a race, there is not set amount of chapters you should read. Just read what you can and what you want to read and underline what you have noticed, what you find interesting, what you find difficult, what you have found exciting!
Then find a friend or two and ask them to do the same and set a date for when you meet/Skype together and share what you have been learning, underlining, struggling with. Pray together and then set a date for the next time you will do this again. It doesn’t matter if one of you is in the middle of Genesis and the other is ahead in Numbers… it doesn’t matter. It all about knowing Jesus more.
I have to say that I have done this read through a couple of times and each time I see something new and see something more of the big picture. The reason why I want to share these things with you is because I really struggled with reading my bible and there are hundreds of techniques but the most simplest technique of “just read it” really helped me understand who the bible is about, why I would want to read it and why I have no need to feel rubbish when I don’t.
I hope this helps and encourages you too.