Are you reading the Bible for the wrong reasons?
I read an article recently about how Christians have elevated the Bible to the point of idolatry in our culture. It was interesting and I couldn’t help but agree.
I grew up in an evangelical culture that revered and honored the Bible as God’s Word, and I am grateful. I’ve loved the Bible as long as I can remember, and I take it seriously. I believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word and that it is indeed living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.
Knowing and reading the Bible, taking its truth to heart, studying it for deeper meaning — all these practices have impacted my life in huge, positive ways.
I don’t take the Word of God lightly at all.
But for many years, I read the Bible for all the wrong reasons. Maybe you have, too.
4 Reasons Not to Read the Bible
1. To be a better Christian
It’s been preached and taught a thousand times over: to be a better Christian, you need to read and study the Bible. In the most basic sense, I guess, it’s true. . . although the phrase “better Christian” rubs me raw and makes me go all kinds of crazy.
Why? Because a “good” or “better” Christian is redundant. If we are Christ-believers, then we believe God has washed us of the stain of sin, making us holy and blameless in His sight through the blood of Jesus. As a result, we are made “good” in His sight. And if that’s true, then there’s no such thing as a “better Christian.” God sees the perfect sacrifice of His Son when He looks at us. You can’t get any better than that.
Too often the drive to be a “better Christian” is simply a form of competition. Because deep down we don’t want to be better Christians in order to please God. Mostly we want to be “better Christians” than everyone else.
And that is definitely not okay.
Especially since the most mature Christians I know are the ones who readily admit that they aren’t “better Christians.” Instead, they see themselves as totally dependent upon God’s grace to make them “good.”
2. To prove all kinds of points.
Blogger Michelle DeRusha wrote a piece a while back about laying down our swords. Far too many Christians wield the Bible as a weapon against our “perceived” enemies.
The idea of the Bible as a sword comes from Ephesians, in which Paul describes the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit.
I agree that the Bible is a spiritual weapon of sorts. Knowing God’s truth helps us to be proactive, to slay the lies that the world — and the voices inside our head — hurl at us every day.
But the Bible is not — and was never meant to be — a weapon for striking down our “perceived” enemies. You know, the people who disagree with us, those who don’t follow our faith, those who have different lifestyles and agendas.
- Using the Word of God to call another human being an abomination is a twisted use of scripture.
- Using it to beat “sinners” into submission is NOT the purpose of God’s Word.
- Using it to condemn those who think, look, and act differently — even those who don’t believe God’s Word — and devalue other human beings is all kinds of wrong.
3. To inflate your own ego
There’s a well-known passage in the Bible that talks about taking the plank out of your own eye before trying to remove the speck in your brother’s eye.
It’s easy to read the Bible and think of all the heathens out there. All the ones who refuse to read, let alone follow God’s word.
We “good Christians” read the passages about sinners and “the lost” and we — like the proud Pharisee — thank God that we aren’t like them. That we know better. That we have trusted God with all our hearts and we are among the chosen.
When we read it that way we miss the point completely!
We’re supposed to see ourselves as one of the hopeless. As one of the heathens condemned to a life without God. As one of those who desperately needs a Savior.
Reading the Bible just to feel better about our own righteous standing negates the entire message of the Bible.
4. As a quaint book of feel-good quotes.
It’s important to memorize scripture. It’s good to know encouraging verses to help us on the hard days.
But if this is the extent of our Bible reading — memorizing random verses out of context–then we’re going about it all wrong.
While it’s fine to use scripture as inspiration for daily living, if this is all we use the Bible for, then we reduce it to a book of poetry or pithy sayings. In that sense, it’s no different than the writings of Confucius, Mark Twain, or Bob Marley. I can find just as many encouraging quotes in a million different places.
The Bible is so much more than just an inspirational book of quotes.
For far too many years, I was guilty of reading the Bible for all four of the above reasons. But I’ve changed. Now I read the Bible for different reasons entirely. Reasons I think line up more clearly with how God intended.
So are there any good reasons to read the Bible?
Well, yes, I believe there are. But you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what they are.
Next week I’ll share with you the some of the best reasons to read the Bible, reasons that’ll knock your socks off, reasons that keep me going back to God’s Word over and over for more. I can’t wait to tell you about them! (You can read them here!)
In the meantime, can you think of other wrong reasons people read the Bible? Will you share your thoughts with me in the comments below?