One of the sections in Multiply* prompts us to examine how we study the Bible. Beyond some good ideas on mechanics, the questions get more intrusive as they ask us to evaluate our motivation behind diving deep into Bible studies.
So far, I’ve gone through this section twice with guys I’m meeting with and the impact on my approach to the Bible has taken on new and deep meaning.
Like most of the questions woven throughout Multiply, we can provide curt little answers and read on, but in one-on-one discipleship meetings, that’s not quite so easy. As we challenge each other to consider whether we are reading the Bible to fill our wisdom quota, the authors ask us to consider if we are reading out of:
- Guilt. How many times have you been asked, especially in church: Are you reading your Bible daily? You know you should is merely insinuated, right? At this point, we could go on and on about legalism in the organized groups we call church, but I’ll leave that for another post!
- Status. Do I hold my head a little bit higher, stick my chest out, when someone recognizes my vast knowledge of the Bible? Am I trying to learn the Greek variations of a word to impress others?
- Teaching Material. If I am accomplished, perhaps I will be chosen to lead a Bible study, then I will have arrived! Am I studying the Bible to climb to church honor society?
Wait a minute guys, you can’t ask those questions! You’re poking me for being guilty of not studying, right? Wrong.
Lately I’ve been super-inspired to read the Bible, but not in bulk and not with a “Bible-in-a-month” approach. On this blog, I created widget that keeps track of how many posts I’ve written per month. It’s rather prominent on my home page and rather embarrassing to look at July through October 2017. (See I don’t have to go far to point out my own deficiency.) If I were to graph this, you would see a steady decline in posts over this period.
Any excuse will do, but this is the point: the farther I slip away from the discipline of reading the Bible, and in my case posting a blog, the weaker I’ve become, the greater the opportunity for the enemy to slip in and trip me up.
Why is this the case? Are you suggesting that merely reading the Bible fixes my problem of temptation and keeps me far from sin? Consider “The Reading Room.”
The Reading Room
Any long-time Christian will tell you that the Bible is the inspired word of God, given to us as a guide. Good job. You answered the question correctly. Great.
What I’ve come to realize is the Bible is a drop of words in an ocean of existence.
If God really is omnipotent, omnipresent, omni____, and if He’s been around since the beginning of creation, the words He has spoken are like the stars in the universe: impossible to count. Here’s your math equation: Words in the Bible divided by Infinity. Let’s just agree that the number is very small.
The Bible is merely the highlight reel to help us know God’s voice, His character, His story of relentless redemption for His creation.
It is NOT an idol to be placed prominently on the mantle above the fireplace. It’s a story to build us up, to encourage and equip, to rebuke and punish, to be shared from the heart.
Imagine you’re walking in a hallway going from your bedroom to the kitchen. Place yourself in some luxurious manor, perhaps the Biltmore, or some such place. As you’re walking down the hall, you see a door open on the left. You glance in to see two chairs by the fireplace. One is empty, one is not. You pause for a moment and realize the one sitting in the adjacent chair is The One. Jesus is waiting for you to come and sit with Him by the fire for a few minutes as you begin your busy day. He wants to tell you a story, to speak to you, to remind you of mistakes His people have made in the past, of triumphs, of great faith, and even ridiculous failure. He’s waiting for you to come and sit and listen for a few minutes.
This is reading the Bible. This is learning to hear the very voice of God in our lives.
Here’s the thought: Will you continue walking down that hallway without stopping? Are you too busy to sit with Jesus for a few minutes?
I hope I never read the Bible out of obligation, guilt, status or merely to prepare for some teaching. Lord, I love the fact that you are always there for us. Help us to take advantage of your presence in our lives today.
*Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, © 2012 Francis Chan, Mark Beuving, ISBN: 978-0-7814-0823-3, Published by David C Cook, Colorado Springs, CO