Stop Reading Your Bible

The Beacon - September/October 2012

By Ben Gandy • From our September/October 2012 newsletter

At least stop reading it as we are being told to read it nowadays. Allow me to explain.

Walk into a bookstore – any modern one will do. Purchase your two-dollar coffee and wander until you find the “religion” section. Now take a look at all the Bibles they have for sale. Look at the variety. There’s The Couples Bible, Daily-Walk Bible, NIV True Images Bible, Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible, MANual, Life Recovery Bible, The Message ,The Story, Precious Moments Bible. And the list could go on and on.

This troubles me. Yes, Bibles are being sold (let’s all be clear; this is a good thing). But a part of this does break my heart.

We are being sold two ideas. The first is far less disturbing than the second.

Idea #1: There is a Bible for you.
Are you married? There is a Bible for you. Are you divorced? There is a Bible for you. Do you have teenage kids? There is a Bible for you. Do you lack masculine qualities? There is a Bible for you. Do you own a guinea pig? There probably is a Bible for you.

No matter where you are in your “faith journey”, there is a packaged and wrapped Bible that has been carefully thought out, laid out, and produced for you. This is, in part, a good thing. If this means you buy it, OK. If this means you read it, even better. A lot of thought and effort went into making a Bible for you.

Idea #2: The Bible is made for your own improvement and self-satisfaction.
Do you want to grow closer as a couple? Check out the cool new features in The Couples Bible. Do you want to be entertained by a good story? The Story is formatted just like a book, which is perfect for reading instead of watching TV.

This is the part that disturbs me. It seems as though our culture has taken God’s living and active word (Hebrews 4:12) and made it a manual for how we can be better people and how we can be fulfilled. We add helps and anecdotes to make it more relevant. We fill it with colors to make it more attractive.

We’ve added pictures and timelines. We inundate the pages with life tips and tertiary rules to benefit our stuffed lives. And our culture accepts all of this with the self-centred thought that the Bible was written for me so that I can be healthier, happier, and a better person.

Instead of trusting the Authority of God’s word, we trust in people’s experience. Instead of trusting the Clarity of its commands (Deuteronomy 6:4-7), we look for study helps and books about the Bible. We don’t see the Bible as sufficient for us, at least not in its original form. We don’t need it so much anymore.

This is the disturbing part.

This is disturbing because the Bible wasn’t written for you to be a better person. Rather, the Bible is for you to know the Lord your God, to listen to his voice, and to love him and obey his commands. We are meant to write these words on our heart (Proverbs 7:3) and to meditate on them (Psalm 119:97). It is a lamp to our feet (Psalm 119:105). God’s word is food for our belly (Ezekiel 3:1-3).

If these “additions” mean that your neighbor finally opens God’s word, great!  But may it not be so they can understand how to be a moral person. May it not be so that they can know how to improve their life. Instead, may they dwell in the richness of who God is and how he has given his son for us.

So, please stop reading your Bible. At least stop reading it to find out how to deal with x, y, and z in your life. Stop reading it because you’re depressed, or angry, or you need courage for a task.

Read your Bible to know God. To draw close to his heart. Follow the wise words of the man ‘after God’s own heart’;

“Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4a).