Sometimes we do things out of obligation. We tell someone we are going to do something and then we HAVE to do it. We committed. We may not necessarily WANT to do it, but we are obligated. I think we often take the same approach when it comes to reading scripture. We know we are supposed to do it to “be a good Christian.” But honestly, we don’t always want to.
There is a disconnect between the way we view spiritual teaching now and they way it was viewed when the Apostles walked the Earth. That disconnect is driven, in part, by the vast access to information we have these days. Anything we could ever want to know is right at our fingertips. There is no reason for us to memorize anything anymore. If we want to recall something, we can just pick up our phones or get on our laptops and find the information.
We are to “crave God’s Word like a newborn craves milk.” Do we really do that? Is the Bible to most important book in our lives? When was the last time you read your Bible? Is it a chore for you to do it? It is for me some days. I have tried to build a habit of reading my Bible when I first wake up. I find I need to do it then if I want to make sure it is done.
My biggest reason for reading the Bible is because I do not want to be reliant on someone else to tell me what the Bible says. I have been there in my life. I was so awed and attracted to one person’s interpretation of scripture that I put more stock in what they said the Bible said than I did in what it actually said.
As I have been on this journey of discovering what Jesus said and what it means for me to be obedient, I have found myself focusing more on what the Bible ACTUALLY says than what others say it says. Commentaries have been helpful, but I have tried to limit the number of people I have influencing the way I am reading the Bible. I want to hear the meanings and words of Jesus, NOT a person who means well.
I’m not saying there is anything bad or wrong with the interpretations of others. That is how we even have the Bible today. But I want to see the words for myself. I want to read and understand them for myself. I don’t want to be dependent on someone else to tell me what the Bible says and means.
I found myself in a discussion the other day with a local shopkeeper about his views on faith and Christianity. I found it to be a perfect opportunity to share with him what I have learned as I read through the Bible. He wasn’t offended. He didn’t yell at me. He actually knew the Bible fairly well. But he wasn’t a believer which made me remember someone can know what the Bible says and it not change their life. What he needs shared with him is the life change that happens when you start to live out the words of Jesus.
At the end of the day, I want people to feel like they were around Jesus when they spend time with me. I think that sounds a little more woo-woo than I mean it to. Jesus wasn’t the effeminate, sheep petting, blond hair / blue-eyed person us Americans see him as. He was so much more. I want people to hear the soft sound of sandaled feed when they see me coming. I want them to smell Jesus and know they are loved.