As is the case with food so is the challenge the same with the word of God. The majority of the homes in America own at least one Bible. A great number of individuals who own a Bible claim to read a chapter or two a week from the Bible. As if mere reading is enough. Many atheist and non-faith individuals claim to have read the entire Bible some time in their life, which I find difficult to believe. A great many professed Christians cannot make such a claim. I personally have read through the entire Bible several times and each time I discover something profound and interesting each time I read it.
In addition, reading the Bible does not constitute an understanding of the Bible. For many in the church they are motivated and led by their traditions over what the Bible teaches. Their claim of faith is based on being raised under those traditions. “Grandma believed it therefore I believe it” type of faith. For those of the non-faith community their reading is lined to their world view. Which is also the common problem among members of the church. People judge God’s word by how they understand social justice issues; women’s rights, slavery, sexuality, and laws for example.
Why is this the common approach to the Scriptures by those in and outside the church? Biblical illiteracy is the main problem. First off, no one would allow a child go a day without eating. Why then go a day or several days without reading God’s word? How long does a person usually take to eat a meal? Well depending on the meal and how long they have to eat before returning to something they are scheduled to accomplish will determine how fast they eat. However, eating fast isn’t go for a person’s health, especially when the habit is done over an extended period of time. This is true with reading the Bible.
I am reminded of narrative of Jesus was at Gethsemane with his disciples, the night he was to be arrested. Jesus instructs his disciples to wait where they were while he goes off to pray. He took three of his disciples with him; Peter, James and John. He asked them to “watch with me.” A good example that the Christian faith isn’t to be lived alone. Jesus goes off a short distance to pray. He then returns to his disciples and finds them asleep. He then asked Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The Christian faith is not a fast food type of faith. Just as we should invest in many areas of our life (family, finances, career, and health) so should we invest in our spiritual life. Developing disciplines is important. Anyone who considers themselves to be a Christian yet fails or refuses to read the Bible is a contradiction of terms. Merely reading the Bible is not enough. We should also study the Bible. We may read a daily devotional like Daily Bread or something from our Bible app on our phones but this isn’t Bible study.
To learn and understand the Bible there are many things we should do on top of investing some serious time in reading. Scheduling a set time is good. Knowing your purpose and direction is important as well. Spending 15 minutes to grow closer to the Lord by involving a time of meditation helps us get close to Him. This is spiritual development.
Another important direction we should go is learning and understanding the people and culture of the time when the authors of the Bible wrote their material. In order to do that we should gain accesses to other resources and material about the subject we are looking into. Spending time to know and understand the language as well and learn hermeneutics. Another very important step we should do is remove ourselves from our comfort zones and allow the complex and difficult parts of the Scriptures influence us.
We can become the greatest obstacle to our learning of the Scriptures and of God’s will for mankind. Allow God through His Spirit to guide and shape you. Anything worth doing is difficult and uncomfortable. It may not taste good at the start but over time we will develop a taste for learning.