One of the most difficult parts of pastoral work is trying to get people to care about things that will lead toward the abundant life God desires each of us to have. It seems the majority of my time is spent trying to get people to make an effort, rather than supporting those who are.
The place where this struggle is most clearly seen is in reading and study of The Bible. In the last six months alone I can count far too many conversations that included, “I know I should read my Bible, but right now I’m not.” My heart always sinks when I hear those words. Why?
When someone chooses to enter into life without the Word of God guiding their heart and minds they walk on the edge of a cliff, death and destruction lurking one step away.
Here’s the problem I see: most Christians view Bible reading as no different than reading the latest popular book—it’s nice to do when time affords, but hardly a necessity.
Here are the two main purposes for Bible reading, as I see them (there are others, feel free to add yours):
- Bible reading gives God the space to breathe into your heart and mind, allowing His presence to dwell in your richly. Hebrews 4:12 says God’s Word is living and active, so in reading The Bible you don’t engage an ancient text, you engage the presence of God through the Word.
- Bible reading gives you a lens for viewing and entering into the world. In engaging the text God shapes you, so you can more rightly see the world through his perspective instead of your own.
I think people expect me to badger them for not reading their Bibles, like it’s my pastoral duty to judge them for not being a good Christian Bible reader. And while I do grieve when I hear of individuals who choose to be Christians without the Bible, my desire in drawing them toward the text is for those two reasons above.
People who ignore the Scriptures have less of the presence of God in their lives and are walking closely to death and destruction, because the things most pressing in life take over their mind, rather than God’s Word.
To be a Christian is to be a Bible person. Yes, saving faith is through believing in Jesus, but Jesus is illuminated to us through the Scriptures.
So rather than ignoring the Scriptures as just another book, imagine opening the presence of God in your hands, allowing Him to give you a new lens for viewing the world.