Last week I gave you four reasons NOT to read the Bible.
The disclaimer I revealed though: I LOVE the Bible. I’m not saying don’t read the Bible. I am suggesting, however, that many of the reasons we’ve been taught to read the Bible are faulty and unfruitful.
But I WANT you to read the Bible. There are beautiful, wonderful and compelling reasons to do so.
Here are four that knock my socks right off:
Why Read the Bible?
1. To know God
God, in His infinite wisdom and for reasons unbeknownst to us, chose to reveal Himself through a story.
If we look at how Jesus preached, how He taught, how He related to people, we see that He often spoke in parables. He told stories. He related timeless truth to the timeliness of people’s lives. He used stories to help them understand.
And this is how God uses the Bible for us.
The Bible is the story of God, the people He loves, and the lengths He will go to in order to get them back whenever they wander.
It is a love story of the grandest magnitude.
People are drawn to stories. As Parker Palmer says in his book, A Hidden Wholeness:
“Storytelling has always been at the heart of being human because it serves some of our most basic needs: passing along our traditions, confessing failings, healing wounds, engendering hope, strengthening our sense of community.”
It’s precisely what God does through the Bible.
And when we read the Bible as story, we realize that the greatest character — the Protagonist of the story — is God Himself. We start to recognize His attributes and know Him as a person. We can’t help but be drawn to the mysterious and compelling person of God who sometimes confuses us but always keeps us yearning to know more.
God reveals His character–the very essence of who He is–through His story.
2. To understand ourselves and our relationship to God
If the Bible is a love story and God is the Protagonist, then who are we?
We are the Beloved.
This is what makes it a love story.
When we read the Bible the way God intended, we learn how beloved we truly are.
- We learn what it feels like to be wooed, comforted, nurtured.
- We learn to trust the God who loves us so much that He is willing to go to the ends of the earth, to give up everything, to win us back.
- We learn what it means to be human, what it means to be loved, what it means to be bought at a great price.
It’s the greatest story ever told, and we are a crucial part of it.
The Bible isn’t meant to beat you over the head with rules and condemnation. It was never meant to make you despise yourself because of your mistakes or even your sin.
It’s meant to turn your heart toward the one who constantly pursues you, who faithfully watches over you. The one who gazes at you with the enchantment of a love-drunk parent over a much-cherished child.
We read the Bible to understand who we are — specifically, who we are to God.
And that we are lovely because He loves us.
3. To understand that we have a role to play in the story
God uses all kinds of people in the Bible to get his point across, to spread his message, to tell his story.
None of them are perfect.
In fact, when examined closely, they all look a lot like us. And yet in the weaving of the story, God uses these ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
This is how He uses us as well.
We are threads in the tapestry of the grand story and we are each individuals, made with purpose on purpose. We have talents, gifts, personalities, and every one of us has a unique take on the world that God intends to use in beautiful and wondrous ways.
If we never read the Bible — and if we never read it as the story that it is — we won’t ever grasp the idea that we are part of God’s plan. That we matter. To God and to the story.
Because the story isn’t over. The story is about the coming kingdom of God, and how we are involved in its unfolding. Each of us has a role to play.
4. To communicate with God
It’s possibly one of my favorite ways to read the Bible.
The Bible teaches me how to talk to this God, how to converse with this mighty star-creator, as a friend talks to another friend.
Prayer is difficult for me, always has been. It’s such an elusive thing, a will-o’-the-wisp that always seems to be just out of reach. When I think I have it nailed down, it somehow manages to take flight, leaving me breathless and wondering how it escaped my grasp yet again.
But the Bible changes everything.
Because we can pray through scripture.
- We can read ancient words, psalms, prayers and lamentations — and make them our own.
- We can worship God and thank Him simply by reading His story back to Him.
- We can delve into the meat of the thing, pour our hearts into it, soak in its truth. . .when we have no idea what to say to God or what to pray for.
And the life in it becomes our soul-connection to God, the way humankind is able to reach out across infinite time and space and touch the Creator Himself. What a gift!
Moses had the burning bush and the tent where he spoke with God face to face.
And we. . . we have this blazing book, alive with the Spirit of God and filled with the beauty and truth of His overwhelming love.
When you don’t know how or what to pray, read the Bible.
So are you inspired yet? Are you ready to jump in with both feet?
The Bible gets a bad rap too often. It’s gotten used in unsavory and even cruel ways and I don’t think God is much pleased about it. But it doesn’t mean we should throw it out altogether.
It’s time to embrace the Bible, to read it, to study it, to learn it — in the way it was intended to be read. I hope this post challenges you to do just that!