In June, at our Church I’m teaching through a series about the Bible. What it’s about. How to Understand it. Why it matters. How to read it.
If you aren’t a Christian, you might wonder, why bother reading a book you don’t believe?
Stats on reading as a whole seem to say that as a culture, we don’t read. In fact, the last percentage I saw said that after a person graduates, only about 7% ever read a book again. That means we’re functionally illiterate, but that’s another post.
So why read the Bible if you aren’t a Christian? Let me offer 4 reasons.
#1 You are what you think about. GIGO was the phrase I learned in elementary school. Garbage in, garbage out. When we are saturated as a culture with bite-sized chunks of information and mis-information, we are literally training our brains to think small and narrow and petty. Good, broad, expanding thoughts happen by intentionally putting ourselves in front of resources that encourage us to think them. The Bible is often listed as one of a handful of “super texts”, one of the few books that has shaped the entire world. And a large part of its inclusion on the list is the huge thoughts it inspires. A great place to start is the book of Proverbs.
#2 It’s shaped the world. I’m interested in anything that’s shaped the world.
I’ve been to Washington, DC to see the original Declaration of Independence. I’ve read the Magna Carta more than once. I read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” annually. On my bookshelf is Darwin’s The Origin of Species as well as many of most influential leadership books written in the last 100 years. I have the complete set of the works of John Wesley (the man credited with ending slavery in England and who helped to begin it’s demise here ‘across the pond’). I read them because I want to know what’s been used in the past to shape the world we live in. The Bible is unparalleled in that category. Try Isaiah 58 for radical thoughts on labor relations and justice for the poor.
#3 The insight it offers into the human condition. How do you explain the human condition? Are we broken? Flawed? Damaged? Good? Right? Beautiful? All of the above? In an incredibly nuanced way, the Bible paints the human condition in a way I find compelling and accurate. For example, read Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 17:9. They hold the tension of the human condition in balance.
#4 It offers something bigger than you. We all need something bigger than us, or life ends up being solely about us, and instead of leaving a legacy, we leave a trail of small, self-centered acts. The Bible lifts us to something–to someone–who transcends our own life. Whether or not you believe in the God of the Bible is up to you (I hope you do), but it begs the question: what are you giving yourself to that’s bigger than you? Check out what’s often called “the faith hall of fame” in Hebrews 11 for some people who lived large lives bigger than themselves.