When you get saved you’re offered many helpful steps to make your Christian walk complete. Going to church, praying every day and in some more ambitious circles you should really begin tithing immediately so as to have someone called the devourer rebuked and to avoid what those pesky canker worms and locusts will do to you.
And for sure you’ve got to read your Bible. Read it every day you’re told.
This is a great piece of advice except that to the uninitiated the Bible can be somewhat of an overwhelming tome.
Imagine with me that you’ve never heard of the Bible. That you’ve never heard the stories with the flannel graph characters from the well meaning Sunday school teacher with a mustache and floral print dresses. (the floral dresses if it was a female the mustache if it was either)
Imagine with me that you’re reading it for the very first time. What would it look like for you?
For starters it’s really long. I mean REALLY long. It’s got like 1, 000 pages. And even more it’s in small print and just to make sure your eyes roll completely back into your head, it’s in two columns!
Then you realize in a hurry that there are no “points”. Christian books are supposed to have points or for the more sophisticated they have “steps”. Usually they’re numbered and range anywhere from three to ten steps or points and with a few notable exceptions twelve. But the Bible doesn’t have any of that. It’s got chapters, and verses, but they don’t seem to serve any other purpose than to locate that statement you really liked about being successful and have your breadbaskets full. (never mind that bread has so many carbs)
There are all kinds of seemingly unhelpful information about whether or not my boil is clean or unclean and a command on how to properly go to the bathroom outside.
There is that one book full of really wise things that are bite sized and suitable for framing. Kind of like Gods very own “successories”.
There are definitely some exciting moments with drama, adultery, and intrigue. It’s kind of like a new NBC series but with robes. You got a guy who becomes king and for sport kills his neighbor and takes his hot wife. There’s that one about the dude who marries a hooker who constantly cheats on him and yet God still tells him to stay with him. And of course that great one about the guy who was super hero strong but after being seduced by a buxom young hottie gets his hair cut off and in a Shakespearean final act he kills himself and all of the enemies in one act.
There are those short books with strange names towards the middle with titles like Habukakuk and Haggai with images of beasts with twelve heads that drink blood for who terrify cities and for whom mothers take their children off the streets.
And then there are the genealogies. I mean seriously have you read a genealogy? Meshuickansianaianrama the son of Reahoboamaninian begat Hababukiareaianwho dwelt in the valley of Meshiuknian which is by the Jordan. Maybe the reason they don’t use last names in the Bible is because the first names are just too long?
As you hit about ¾ of the way you get to what appears to be Chapter 2, but it’s in fact a different section. It’s called the New Testament. The only “testament” that I’ve ever actually seen before was my “last will and testament”.
The New Testament is pretty cool except the part where they kill the hero. You’re not supposed to kill the hero. I mean seriously. Oh wait. Whew. He rises from the dead. What a twist. Normally if the hero dies he would wake up and realize it was all a dream.
If you can make it all the way to the end you find that part with all the beasts again. Sounds vaguely familiar. Almost like that stuff from those books in the middle. And then there’s that hero guy again who rose from the dead. He seemed so peaceful, and now he’s got the fire, the sword and he flies. He really is a hero. He just needs a cape. It’s kind of like Batman but with a horse.
I certainly am not trying to offend anyone. If you’ve known me or been around me at all you know of my love for the Bible. I believe it is Gods perfect word, perfectly recorded for you and me. There are reasons it’s written the way it is. God does not make mistakes.
The Bible can seem very daunting. It can seem very complicated, hard to understand. Whether you’re a new believer or have been around the church block a time or two, the Bible is the one thing you want to be passionate about, and yet it can be the very thing you fail at most often.
Maybe that’s because it isn’t meant to be “read” as much as it was to be searched. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be memorized as much as we are to meditate on it. And maybe, just maybe we need the help of a higher power to completely get the beauty and sophistication that is the Bible. Perhaps God wrote the Bible this way because He knew we would have to depend on Him to fully grasp it.
I love it enough that we’re going to spend some time in the next couple of weeks talking about how to approach the Bible. I hate to use the word “study” it because that word is used very rarely in the New Testament. But for lack of a better words we’re going to learn how to “study” the Bible.
I hope you can make it. I’m going to share some of my own tools of the trade and the ways that I personally approach it. I’m hoping you can bring some of your thoughts and suggestions as well.
See you Monday night at 7:30 at Journey Ecclesia in Building 8 at The Factory.