How to Read the Bible…Without Losing Your Faith
Have you ever read the Bible and after a few minutes placed it down in utter frustration? If so, then you are not alone. Countless people have experienced the same frustration and even have lost their faith in the process.
That’s a real tragedy! But it doesn’t have to happen so long as your expectations are reasonable.
So I want to give you in this post three practical tips to help you improve your Bible reading. To help you move past some of the mental barriers and enjoy God’s word with fresh zeal.
The Wrong Way to Read
So let’s start with the wrong way to read the Bible. Evangelicals place a great emphasis on Bible reading but often have wrong expectations as to its daily benefits. We need to realize that daily Bible reading is more like a long marathon than a 100-yard dash.
Sometimes reading scripture can feel more like walking in mud rather than walking in a park. If you don’t have a marathon mindset, books like Leviticus and others will bog you down. Frustrated, you will quickly put your Bible back on the shelf. That’s unfortunate because books like Leviticus and others have spiritual nourishment but require patience and study.
Life doesn’t always slow down for us and sometimes the first to go is Bible reading.
When you are in the midst of a crisis, at times it’s very hard to read the Bible — particularly when it doesn’t seem to address your immediate needs in stressful moments. However, if you maintain the discipline to read enough scripture, you will be amazed at how the Holy Spirit will bring verses to mind in the midst of life’s worse moments.
So we need to adjust our expectations of the Bible and realize this fundamental idea.
God’s Word is not a self-help guide to a better life. Rather, the Bible is a declaration of God’s redemptive plan for the world.
Setting the Right Mindset
Evangelicals stress reading the Bible because it serves as “the rule of faith.” All religions have some authority that determines what is true and what is false. From Buddhism’s the Four Noble Truths to Islam’s Quran, the majority of faiths in the world (including Atheism) draw from an authoritative source.
Our highest authority is the Bible. Therefore, if you are serious about your faith, then it follows that you would commit to understanding its message or story. The Bible can not be the real source of your faith if it is not the recognizable authority in your life.
With this in mind, here are three tips to help you build into your life the discipline of Bible reading.
3 Tips to Bible Reading
Tip #1 – Accept that the Bible wasn’t written to you.
Sometimes we forget that the actual content of the Bible was not written with us in mind. When Moses wrote the first chapter of Genesis, he wasn’t concerned with a secular, evolutionary modern mindset. Rather, he was concerned about a group of people who had an Egyptian view of the universe and were struggling to identify themselves under Jehovah.
Here is the hardest point to accept. Sometimes we approach scripture with the expectation that it was written to us. That simply isn’t the case. The Bible was written to a particular people at a distinct time with their own unique problems. The proposed solutions to those problems may not necessarily be directly applicable to you today but still beneficial.
Tip #2 – Accept that the Bible was written for you.
Even though Tip 1 is correct, that doesn’t negate the Bible’s relevance in the 21st century.
Scripture contains a literary portrait of God’s redemptive plan and love for humanity. To understand this picture, we have to step back from the parts to see the entirety of the whole. God’s redemptive plan includes all people throughout all of time. Meaning, the Bible speaks most clearly to the timeless problems each generation faces and not to the particular challenges nuanced to the troubles of the day.
Issues like love and hate, peace and war, and kindness and humility are as relevant to 21st century Manhattanites as they are to residents of 9th century Istanbul. The Bible speaks clearly to both groups of people.
Once we accept this broad portrait of God’s redemptive plan for the world, we can then work backward into the details finding applications to life today.
Tip #3 – Show reverence for the Bible.
The Bible is God’s powerful word, so don’t read it like you would a newspaper or self-help blog post. Instead, approach scripture from a quiet, humble position. God has given us “His Word” to our benefit but not just our benefit alone. Investing the necessary time to understand the Bible’s message for us is the heart of revering God’s word.
In conclusion, the study of God’s Word means placing ourselves underneath its instruction and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us into the way of all truth. Only when we allow this to happen, will we see real advances in our personal lives.