I grew up in a home where the Bible was read every day, my father often talked bout things he read in it. We attended a church, the Anglican Church of Canada, where every service had a reading from the Old Testament, another from the New Testament, and several other passages from the Bible were spoken in unison by the congregation. I becam an altar boy and assisted the minister in communion services. It was in this setting that I first heard the call of God.
And yet, there was tension in our home, inconsistencies in the church, and in all the other churches around us. These things, plus what we were being taught in school and the books I read in my later teens, caused doubts to grow. Finally I abandoned altogether the Bible, Church and Christianity.
Life was chaotic, without meaning or purpose. In my mid twenties I began to read the Bible for myself. After a few months, I became aware that every part of the book was linked to everything else in the book. It was one book. I found myself backed into a corner where I would have to reject the whole book, or accept it all as God’s truth. That was when God called me the second time and I prayed a spontaneous prayer for perhaps the first time in my life.
It took several months for me to grasp that the direction of my life had changed at that point and that what had happened to me was what Christians called being born again.
I have continued to read the Bible as a single book. I have read it through a number of times, in both English and French. At the very least I read a complete book of the Bible, reading small portions each day. Sometimes I have found it helpful to read a book all the way through at a single setting. That is what the writer expected us to do, isn’t it?
We can’t grasp the fulll meaning of any Bible passage if we separate it from the rest of the Bible. Just reading the highlights here and there is like playing hopscotch over the surface of the Bible and never really grasping what is going on.
I most emphatically do not believe that the Bible should be treated as a series of morality tales. That usually, perhaps always, results in a distorted idea of what was happening. The Bible was not written to teach us about God and how to live a successful life. The Bible is given to us as a personal message from God to lead us to know Him personally. When we truly know Him, He wants to direct our lives in the way that will honour Him.
That way will not be the way we our own inclination would take us. It may be inconvenient and uncomfortable at times, or worse. But it is the way that gives joy that we could never experience in any other way.
One thought on “How to read the Bible”
This article reminds me of when I had a reconsecration in my life at 21 years of age. I also struggled with putting together the pieces of Scripture to make sense of the Bible when my former church wanted to pick and choose and veer out of context. During this time, a middle-aged Brother encouraged me to read the Bible through as if I had never read it before, thereby being as open minded as possible.