Saturday, February 25, 2006

On Reading the Bible #1

On Reading the Bible #1

Many Christians have tried at one time or another to read all the way through the Bible. Some have succeeded, but most have given up at some point, usually early in the process. There are a number of reasons that the project to read through the Bible will much more likely fail than succeed, and most people who attempt the project do not stop to consider them, thus setting themselves up for failure before they even begin the project. In this and future postings, I will deal with some of these problems and propose solutions.

Why Bother?

The reader might ask why I bother, since most Christians seem to make it through this life with some success without ever having read their Bibles all the way through, often without even having read very much of it. The primary reason, if not the sole reason, is that the Bible is the Word of God. It is given “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). The better a Christian knows the Bible, the better he knows the voice of God. The better a Christian knows the voice of God, the more likely he is actually to live in accord with what God requires in his Word. The more a Christian lives in accord with the requirements of God’s Word, the more God is glorified.

A second reason for encouraging people to read through their Bibles is that, once a person is aware of the difficulties of the project, plans for dealing with the difficulties can be made, and the project becomes more manageable. Another way of thinking about it is illustrated by the difference between the 100-meter dash and the marathon. Most people could run 100 meters without any preparation. They might not do it very fast. They might be breathing really hard by the time they finish. Their heart rate may have risen to near maximum. But they could do it. No one, on the other hand, would think it possible to run a marathon without preparation, and would not attempt to do it. But every year there are people who attempt to run an intellectual marathon without preparation, and then wonder why they fail. Reading an anecdote in Reader’s Digest is a 100-meter dash. Almost anyone can do it, even if they do not read well or often. Reading the Bible all the way through is a marathon and in order to accomplish the task, preparation is necessary. It is my intent to help the reader who is serious about reading through the Bible see the obstacles and overcome them, so that he may accomplish his goal.

Why People Fail

One reason people fail to read through the Bible once they have started is they simply are not readers. They read almost nothing, ever, so though they can read, they don’t read and they are badly out of practice. The first step in reading through the Bible is to get in the practice of reading. Read something short. Read something simple. But read something every day. Get in the practice of reading. Make it your first goal, perhaps, to read an issue of Reader’s Digest all the way through in a month. The average Reader’s Digest issue is a little over 200 pages in length, but only 100-120 pages of it is actually reading text. The remainder is advertising and illustrations. Thus, about four pages per day would get the out-of-practice reader back into the practice of reading, but even more, reading regularly.