I read somewhere that to most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click “agree.”
But I’ll let you off the hook. Sort of.
There’s a bigger cultural reality. Like I mentioned yesterday, it’s the reality that most people don’t read at all–much less read the Bible. So before you think this is going to be a guilt-fest and click away, hold that phone. We can do something about that together.
Here are 4 reasons to read the Bible if you are a Christian.
#1 Your habits define you. I shower every day. This defines me as someone people generally don’t have to steer clear of due to unfortunate aromas (you’re welcome–unless you see me at the gym, then sorry). I also read the Bible regularly (not even every day–hey, I’m a work in progress). This defines me as someone who recognizes they need help and as someone who knows that unless God intervenes in my life, I’m done. To put it another way, I have a habit of asking for help. Someone I respect once told me “wise people ask for help.” I wanted to be wise, so I started asking.
Here’s why this is important. In your life, you’re either headed out of trouble, headed into trouble, or are currently in trouble! Jesus said it best: “In this life you will have trouble.” In other words, take it to the bank. The trouble train will be passing through life-town. So what habit(s) do you have in place to get the help you need when the train rolls in?
Many Christians think that when trouble comes, they have to get it together before they can “really” ask God for help. They may ‘toss up a prayer to the big guy’, but in their heart of hearts believe if they had it more together, they wouldn’t be going through this turmoil. The secret thought is this: maybe God is punishing me. And because they haven’t established the pattern of asking for help, their habits are set up to actually push them away from God! Here’s the thought pattern: “once I have it together, then I can really ask God to help. He won’t help me when I’m a mess like this, so I’ll wait a while until I get this fixed.” They’ve set up their life to avoid the help God wants to give.
But the Bible is for people with problems. People who are perfect don’t have problems. So if you are perfect, go ahead and skip the Bible. But I’ve yet to meet someone without problems. Reading the Bible is a habit that gets you in the place where you can find help from God for your problems. And reading it regularly establishes a habit that puts you in the position to get the help you need from God (and that God wants to give) when you most need it. You know someone loves you when they want to help you. Reading the Bible, you find the God who loves you in the middle of your problems and wants to help you.
#2 You’ll find out you aren’t alone. Here’s a misnomer. The Bible is a book about heroic people. With the exception of one person, everyone else in it is full of drama, flaws and problems. So it isn’t a book you read to find out how perfect you need to be, only to discover you’ll never quite measure up. Only one person is perfect–and he died on the cross because of and for imperfect people like you and me.
Instead, you’ll find out that if God loved and worked through deeply flawed people like Rachel, Rahab, Jacob, Esther, Abraham, Joseph, Jonah, Matthew, Peter, Paul, Priscilla–then he can do the same with you. You don’t have a terminal case of freakishness. You aren’t alone and the risen Jesus wants you to know it.
#3 You’ll find out what you’re capable of and who you are called to be. The wonderful paradox of God’s grace you’ll find in the Bible is that God loves you as you are, but loves you too much to leave you that way.
Let me put it this way. I wouldn’t be a very good parent if I didn’t love my kids in spite of their hang-ups and weaknesses. In fact, emotionally abusive parents are parents who slave-drive their children while withholding acceptance. But I also wouldn’t be a very good parent if I simply overlooked their character flaws and hoped they went away without any attention from me. In fact, that’s the definition of an emotionally absent parent. God–your heavenly Father–is neither emotionally abusive or emotionally absent.
In reading the Bible, you find out that God your Father has called you to something high and holy, that he loves you in your mess, but loves you so much that he refuses to leave you in your mess. You’ll find out that God has destined you for greatness.
#4 You’ll meet God. We don’t worship the Bible, rather, the Bible points us to the God we are meant to worship. So in it, we meet God face to face.
I cannot count the number of times while reading the Bible I’ve known that I was meeting God. When reading about Joseph as he reveals himself to his brothers who betrayed him and hearing him say “what you meant for evil, God meant for good,” I’ve met the God who can outsmart my worst circumstances. When reading about Esther facing down her fear and asking for the King’s help, I’ve met the God who helps me find the courage to face down my own fears and invites me to be part of his bigger-than-my-life plans. When reading the stories of Jesus healing severely damaged and discarded people, I’ve met the God who has compassion for broken people, like me.
It’s God I find in the Bible because God is the point of the Bible.
So what’s your plan for reading? Here are a couple options.