Often Christians question what God wants them to do, who God wants them to become, and how they should live. I understand this dilemma and the desire to have a “word from the Lord” for one’s life. I’ve felt painfully in need of direction from God many times in my life.
But of course, we do have a Word from the Lord, we do have guidance from God about what to do, who we should become, and how we should live – it’s called the Bible. At this suggestion many Christian balk, roll their eyes, or state with complete honesty, “yeah but I don’t read the Bible” or “I’m not sure about the Bible.” Despite the struggles of some believers with Holy Scripture, it has been the experience and witness of Christians for over 2000 years that God speaks and guides through the pages of the Bible.
That’s why Christian teachers and pastors, especially in the Protestant Tradition, have so emphasized personal, daily Bible reading. When we refuse to study or read Scripture we are in essence refusing to listen to the voice of God. Yes, learning to read the Bible well takes some effort and practice. Yes, God does not always leap out of the pages of the Bible and speak to us, whether audibly or in our hearts, but none the less God still speaks.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to “Love God” and “love our neighbors” that we are to “go make disciples” and that we are to give “cheerfully” and that we are to talk with our children about the ways of God when we are at “home” and “on the way.”
In other words, the Bible provides us with plenty of guidance about how we should live and the kind of people we should be becoming by the grace of God.
As you seek to become a better student of the Bible here are some things to keep in mind:
- The difference between academic and spiritual study. Yes, these two forms of study can go together, but for Christians we are primarily seeking to hear from the Spirit of God through the pages of the Bible for our life and the life of others. There are countless stories of men and women going to college and taking an academic course on the Bible which instead of building up their faith actually weakens it. So seek out Bible study opportunities and Bible study materials that have a spiritual focus.
- If you’re just starting, focus on reading smaller sections a day. There are no bonus points for reading through several chapters a day. The point is engage with the section of the Bible you are reading and to prayerfully consider what God may be saying to you.
- Don’t only study the Bible by yourself. The Bible is a book meant for a particular people, God’s people. Find a Bible study group to participate in.
- Get an understanding of the big picture of the Bible, once you understand the major storyline and movements of the Bible understanding smaller sections is much easier (shameless plug here).
Wherever you are in relation to daily Bible reading don’t give up, keep at it, and dive deeper into the mystery of God’s Word.