God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Five Reasons to Read the Bible Through in 2013

As you may have noticed, the blog has gone silent for a quarter. This was partly because I became burned-out with Romans and needed a break (I am also finishing a year+ in-depth study in our Sunday evening Bible study) and because I was not getting the kind of engagement on the blog as I had hoped. That needs a lot of retooling on my part.

But I have not been completely idle.

Every odd-numbered year I resolve to read the Bible through in a year. Why every odd-numbered year? Because I wanted to make sure I had a good balance of big-picture and in-depth Bible study in my life. 2013 is an odd-numbered year. This year, I want you to read through the Bible with me.

So today I give my top five reasons to read through the Bible in 2013. Tomorrow I have an exciting announcement that will either force me to become a regular blogger or teach me to never write a post again.


Reason 1: See the Bible as a Whole Story

I grew up in a church that was notorious for "verse-ism." What is verse-ism? It's when you take single verses (or a few) to stand for large ideas in scriptures. Want an example? Explain how a person is to be saved. Most people will give one of two answers. They will either tell what their church says without adding verses or they will rattle off verses to go along with those points, for example: Hear – Romans 10:17, Believe – Hebrews 11:6, Repent – Acts 17:30, Confess – Romans 10:10, Baptism – Acts 2:38. The issue isn't correctness or how verses/steps should be added or subtracted. The problem is that this type of Bible reading flattens scripture down to just a few shallow verses and leaves out large swaths of deep scripture. This is why the biggest problem I see in churches is the inability to see beyond the small passage of the day and why many daily Bible readings turn me off. They give you one or two verses without any kind of larger-picture view of how this fits into the entire scripture—or as I like to say it, “verse-ism”. This type of shallow reading leads to shallow knowledge of the Bible and eventually to shallow spirituality.

Reading through the entire scripture will help you put the entire Bible into perspective and give you a leg-up in both understanding God’s story and understanding our place in it. You will see how the Old Testament and New Testament are not at odds with each other. You will no longer see God "maturing" but God showing humans their inability to enact the Gospel on Earth alone. You will see God’s true plan for Israel, how they never lived up to this purpose, and how the church has fallen into the same traps. You will see why Jesus had to come and reset the covenant. You will understand why Jesus dying on the cross was essential for the Gospel to be completed. This is something you cannot get from one verse a day.


Reason 2: God Speaks to You Through the Bible

The second problem I have found in churches is the simple lack of reading the scripture at all. God's Word has become the plaything of the theologian, property of the pastor, and tool for the schemer. It's become the biology book for non-biology majors: they keep it with them in class because the teacher forces them to but they wouldn't be caught dead reading it outside of class. It's cool to say, "Yeah, I'm a Christian, but I don't read the Bible. It's just not me."

If we are dedicated to become disciples of Jesus, the Messiah, we must read God’s Word. It’s God speaking to us! How can we have a relationship with someone if we only speak to them? By reading His Word every day you gain a greater appreciation for what God does for us and how he loves us. By reading the Bible through in a year you develop a habit of God’s Word speaking to you every day.


Reason 3: Learn how Messed-up Bible Characters Really Were

I never grew up thinking Abraham, Moses, David, or anyone from the Old Testament was like me. I thought of them as fabled characters of old who were saintly followers of God who never wavered. Boy was I wrong.

Trust me, before you finish reading Genesis you will gain a greater appreciation for God’s patience and learn why he loves Christians even though we mess things up more often than we don’t. These people were not angels walking around in people’s clothing. They were dysfunctional families living dysfunctional lives. God loved them because they were still pointed toward His Gospel, even if they didn’t' act it out every time. Your life is no different. But if we do not read the Bible through, we only see these people how preachers want us to see them. And preachers don't like messy stories.


Reason 4: Gain Comfort and Wisdom from Others

The problem is the same as Reason 3. If the people from the Old Testament and New Testament are not the same as I, what could I possibly gain from reading about their lives?

Once you understand Reason 3 from reading the Bible, your life’s problems seem less and less foreign to God and his comfort for others can be your comfort. His wisdom for others becomes His wisdom for you. By reading the Bible through in a year you are able to soothe your pains in a personal way that no preacher or Bible study group would ever be able to. This will help you have something to bring to others when they ask why anyone should become disciples of Jesus, the Messiah.


Reason 5: Gain a Greater Appreciation for the Bible as God’s Word for Us Today

Journalists for Newsweek, Time, and many other news outlets try to portray the Bible as an archaic relic of the past that no one reads because it's just too far removed from reality and unfit for enlightened minds. I don't blame anyone for falling on their side and not wanting to read the Bible—it's all we hear. However, I do not wish to let others define my relationship to God, so why would I want them to define my position toward His Word? Also, even if they were correct in their opinions, I would not want defend my lack of Bible knowledge because someone else told me it wasn't worth reading (like you aren't going to stop reading Newsweek, Time, etc. because I said not to).

I guarantee you, if you read the scripture in a year you will come away with an appreciation for God’s Word that no conspiracy theory or news journalist can shake. The Law of Moses becomes pragmatic and understandable beyond the one or two laws we read from people who want to discredit the Bible. Your appreciation of God's Word should come exclusively from your own personal readings of scripture, not someone else convincing you. Personal reflections stay with you for life. The Bible is the guide book for me, not because my parents believe it to be their guidebook (though they do) but because every time I read through the Bible I come away with the understanding that God truly is the creator of the universe and that He earnestly wants the world to be set right through his perfect law of liberty.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow I will give some helpful tips on how to read the Bible through in a year and give my exciting announcement.

Have you read through the Bible in a year? What things would add to this list? Leave a comment in the section below or on the Sonoma Mountain Parkway Church of Christ Facebook page. See you tomorrow!