The Bible is your daily life playbook, not an outdated relic to be kept on a shelf.
According to LifeWay Research, more than half of Americans have read little to none of the Bible. About 30 percent look up things in the Bible only when they need to. And less than a quarter have any kind of systematic plan for reading the Bible on a daily basis. Some, about 17 percent, simply flip it open to read a passage at random.
Okay, I have to admit that some days I am among that last statistic. Worse, I sometimes hurry through a passage, just so I can check “Read Bible” off my to-do list. I might momentarily feel good, but I’m not fooling myself or God. When it comes to the Bible, we get out of it what focus we put into it.
Am I suggesting that we have to spend hours (or even a half-hour) reading the Bible every time we open it? Nope. Five minutes of quality, focused time might reap more benefit than reading for longer stretches distracted. It’s like praying, right? Some of us struggle to keep focused after saying, “Hey, God, it’s me again…” Fortunately, God looks at the condition of our hearts.
Here’s the bottom line: When we forgo reading the Bible, what we’re really saying to God is that we’re too busy to put in the work of really knowing Him. That we’re good with having a distant relationship with Him. That we sure are happy that He’s just a prayer away — but please don’t ask us to read “that boring, irrelevant book.”
And right there we smack hard into the issue: our perception of His Word.
If we view the Bible as a relic with limited application to modern life, of course we’re not going to value it or want to read it. But if we view the Bible as God intended — His showing us His heart, His plan for mankind, and the sacrificial gift of Jesus that brings us into right standing with Him — we will afford it the respect it is due. Because when we value God’s Word, we will work to grow our knowledge of it.
Let’s consider five reasons Christians should read the Bible. Not because it gains us brownie points, but because it gives strength and depth to our relationship with God.
~ The Bible Helps Us To… ~
1. See who God is and how much He loves us.
It is through the Bible that we learn that God is our loving creator and constant wooer. God tells us in His Word that His love for us is deep, vast, and unchanging. The truth: He desires to be in close relationship with us, and has specifically designed us with gifts and talents that glorify Him. When we correctly view ourselves through God’s lens — we are so very loved, wanted, and valuable — we can push back on a secular world that says otherwise. The good news: Only God’s view matters!
2. Understand why the death of Jesus is such a big deal.
The Bible, ultimately, points us to Jesus. We are to read the Bible to learn about Jesus, why we should want to follow Him, and how His death empowers us and gains us a heavenly home with Him forever. We can, with confidence, tell people, “Jesus loves you!” because of what the Bible says about His life and death. His love and sacrifice for all of humanity is shared with us via Scripture. Jesus points us to the truth, but neither forces nor manipulates anyone into accepting His open invitation.
3. Know God’s truth, so our lives honor and please Him.
The Bible shows us how to measure “success” — it’s not fame and riches, like the world tells us — and to clearly see what matters. When we build our lives solidly on Jesus, the world can’t manipulate us with its shifting views of “truth.” The Bible is still applicable to our modern lives because God’s nature and standards do not change. The ten commandments are as relevant now as they were two thousand plus years ago. Treating others with kindness is still in fashion with God, and always will be. His greatest commandment? Love God and love others.
4. Gain a “God mindset,” which will guide our thoughts and actions.
Though Satan loves to whisper in our ears that we’re screw ups, mess ups, and unlovable mistakes, that’s not what the Bible says. So let’s ignore Satan and stick with the source of truth! The Bible shows us that God knows we will fail to be perfect. Good thing He doesn’t demand perfection! But He does ask that we purpose in our hearts to daily follow and honor him. God’s grace, when we ask for forgiveness, is guaranteed. The Bible assures us that God never withholds forgiveness when asked. Wahoo! Blessed assurance! God is our loving father. Like an earthly father, He seeks the best for us. His standards and truth serve as healthy boundaries to keep us from the pain of sin.
To read the Bible is to immerse ourselves in stories that show us how God interacted with His people. Tip: A fun way to read the Old Testament is to start with an illustrated children’s Bible. The stories include wisdom we can learn from today. The story of Samson, for example, teaches us the perils of being hot-tempered and vain. In the story of David and Goliath we learn that it is God’s strength, not man’s, that should make us quiver in our boots. And after David had an affair with Bathsheba, even going so far as to murder her husband to cover his sin, we learn of the consistency of God’s forgiveness and the sweet relief of being reconciled to Him. In the New Testament, we see Christ’s actions modeling selfless living. Psalms can be used to jump start our prayer life, and Proverbs contains rich nuggets of gold on becoming a better friend, spouse, parent, and even how to respond to our enemies.
5. Live courageously in our dark, secular world.
It’s hard being a person who seeks after God when we live in a secular world. I don’t particularly like being called a “dimwit” who needs a “crutch” to get through life. But I have to laugh when I hear those labels slung at Christians. Because compared to God, I am a dimwit. And I can think of no better crutch that Jesus, because leaning on Him guarantees me strength. My relationship with Jesus allows me to live with authenticity and consistency. I don’t have to play the game of pretending to have it all together, for one thing. And when I am worried about something, I can hand that fear to Him and know that He’s working on it. The Bible, over and over, promises us God’s peace when we rely on Him. God is in control!
~ The Bible is a Worthy Investment of Our Time ~
As Sean McDowell reminds us, “The Bible has shaped western civilization more than any book ever written. No other book even comes close.” So, clearly, a lot of people have found the Bible worth reading over the centuries.
But finding the time to read it in our speedy, modern world isn’t always easy. We have so much clamoring for our attention, including television and social media. How many of us, for example, have opened Facebook, “just to check for messages,” and found ourselves, an hour or two later, still scrolling through our feed? Ack!
So how might we carve out time to read the Bible? One way might be a consistent reading time every day. You might try reading a Psalm or Proverb while you eat breakfast, for example. Or if your family eats dinner together, try adding it to your meal. What a great time to discuss the reading while you’re all still seated at the table! To help guide your Bible readings and discussion, consider signing up for our daily devotional emails. If reading together is initially difficult, try adding a Bible-based activity to family time. Who’s up for a game of Bible bingo or trivia?
A stat to digest: research done by Barna Group shows that less than 10 percent of all Christian families read the Bible together. How sad is that? Worse, what message might kids take from this? Most likely that the Bible isn’t all that important. And that’s simply not true. The Bible is our very foundation. The bottom line: Every Christian NEEDS to know what the Bible says. The Bible is our playbook for life. It outlines the plays as we move the ball down the field. So let’s read it, and in doing so invite God to join our team! Our reading the Bible gives God opportunities to profoundly change us.
For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and to joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of your heart (Hebrews 4:12).
This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowell’s recently revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this fully updated and expanded resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because it’s true. But share this truth with LOVE!
If you’d like to start from the first blog post in this series, click here: Apologetics: Apologizing for Believing in God?.