Ask anyone that grew up with any kind of Christian upbringing “how can you become closer to God?” or “How can you become a stronger Christian?” and they’ll probably answer with something along the lines of, “Follow Jesus,” What does that mean? “Go to church” Why though? “Read your Bible” Again, why? “Spend time in prayer…”
We have a ready list of things to rattle off to people but we haven’t always thought through why these things are important. When we don’t know why something is important, we tend to just…not do it. Or, if we do keep doing it, we don’t get much out of it. Our hearts aren’t in it because we’re generally doing this thing because we are “supposed to.”
I struggle with this concept. It took a lot for the Bible to be written. 66 books, 40 authors, over the span of about 1,500 years and we are supposed to read it “just because?”
I’m pretty sure God doesn’t work like that.
So while pondering the question “Why should we read/study the Bible?” I felt like God asked me a more important question: “Why did He give us the Bible?”
Again, obvious answers instantly come to mind:
- to tell us how to live a godly life
- to study from
- to learn more about God himself
But how many of us, particularly young people, use the Bible to truly learn more about God? How many of us can honestly say that we study the Bible with a dedicated heart to actually do more of the things God has called us to? How many of us can actually say “the way I live my life right now is a work in progress. I am ready for God to change me and continue to mold me?” We kind of know why we we’re supposed to be reading the Bible, but we consider them less as reasons and more as “rules”. As a result, our Bibles collect dust on a nightstand and the pages never see the light of day beyond the inside of a church.
I really think that there’s supposed to be so much more.
Some people may accuse me of going out on a limb here, but I do not believe the Bible was written as a history book of all of God’s deeds through humanity, nor was it written as a regime for how to live a better life, and it most definitely is not a book of “fables” and “stories” that have been handed down for generations.
I’m not putting words in God’s mouth; I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, praying and researching this topic, and I’ve come up with five general reasons for not only why God gave us the Bible, but also, why it is important to commit time and heart-energy* to studying His word.
*Author note: “Heart-energy” is a term I just made up. But if I were a Dictionary-writin’ woman, it would be defined as “a measurement for active dedication to a task or purpose. It goes beyond just intellectual energy such as through reading or memorization, and is about applying your heart to absorption, understanding and processing.” Go ahead and nominate me to get this term added to the 2019 Oxford English Dict.
The first reason is: God gave us the Bible so we can understand what is true. There are a lot of “truth imposters” in the world. They disguise themselves as good feelings, loopholes and grey areas. Scientific theories are taught as facts in a handy substitute for belief in God. We make moral excuses for what God says is wrong and instead find our own loopholes and justifications for what we want to be true. What’s even crazier is that God knew from the beginning that this would happen. He gave us the Bible anyway. In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans he says “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” (Romans 1:21, 22, 25) When we walk away from what God says is true in the Bible, we are deliberately exchanging the truth for a lie.
Second: God gave us the Bible so we can know who He is. One of the biggest truths that gets exchanged, destroyed, recycled, whitewashed and filtered in the world today is who God is. There seems to be two general “camps” about who God is:
The first is a “Genie in the sky” that adores us and wants to give us whatever we want. He rains down gifts and blessings, sugar bears and gum drops and no one goes to hell as long as they’ve never committed any terrible sins.
Author note: Yes, I said sugar bears. Like those little vitamin gummies people advertise on Instagram. God wants you to have good hair, of course.
When God doesn’t fit with this “Pawpaw in the sky” image, (because, let’s face it, life is hard and I’ve never had a sugar bear vitamin rain down on me) people quickly reject all of God. They think they are rejecting God, but really, they are rejecting the cookie cutter image that they tried to make God in to. God is good, but there’s still famine in the world. God is just but there is still rape happening. God is love, but evil still resides in the world. Which leads to the second camp idea “God is a being of war, after all the Bible has so much war in it. He is a jealous god of vengeance and sends souls to hell.”
God doesn’t fit this image either. If He is a god of hate then why did He provide a way for us to access Him through His Son (John 3:16)? If He is a God of war, then why does the Bible say that He is the source of peace (Isaiah 40:23)? If He is a god of vengeance then why is He so quick to forgive us of our sin (2nd Peter 3:9)?
Third: I am a work in progress. Like I said in my introductory post, I will never achieve homeostasis in my Christian walk. But when I fall out of the habit of spending time in His word, I very quickly become complacent about my Christian walk. Convictions that I normally would be feeling prick my heart go numb. In all honesty, I become a huge slacker in my Christian walk. I justify “I’m doing okay. I’m living a generally good life. My parents are proud of me, my mentors seem to think I’m doing a pretty good job, and I’m not feeling too overwhelmed by things.” and think that I don’t really need to spend a lot of time reading the Bible. What’s more, I become comfortable with that. “There are lots of Christians that don’t go to church every Sunday.” “There are lots of Christians that don’t read the Bible very thoroughly. Heck, there are Christians that don’t even acknowledge the Bible anymore. I’m doing fine.” No. God did not call us to be like other Christians, He called us to obey Him. Period. That’s it. “Good enough” stops being “good enough” for me when I take the time to read His word.
Fourth: Being around other Christians, listening to sermons (both recorded and live) and prayer are all wonderful ways for God to speak to my heart. But if I had to choose just one to rule the others, I would chose the Bible as the strongest way that God ministers to people’s hearts. He planned it to be that way. (Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”) God created the Bible as the most direct agency to speak to Christians, and yet it is often the least acknowledged source of His direction.
Fifth: We are clay. Remember those pictures and visuals I told you about? Here’s one that God has been painting over my heart for years now: My heart is laid out over a potter’s wheel while God’s hands spin and mold it, smoothing out the bumps and air pockets, pulling and shaping it to be just what He designed it to be. All around the potter’s studio are pictures of my heart as I’ve grown, and I can see places where God was paying special attention to one area or another. There are more details to this image that I can share at a later time, but I’m sure many of you can instantly pick up on the symbolism from Isaiah “You are the potter, I am the clay.” The reason I share it now is, my heart has to remain soft in order for God to be able to mold it. He can use great amounts of pressure and force to shape it into what He wants my heart to be, or I can let His word from the Bible continue to soften my heart to His will. When I stop acknowledging the Bible as a direct source of impact to my life, my heart “dries up” and God has to do more to get His direction and council through to me.
Final thoughts: It’s worth repeating: God gave us the Bible so that we can know Him more. We can never have “enough” of the Bible because we can never have enough of knowing Him. He wants us to know Him. Many of us reading this are living in a world where the Bible is 100% accessible, 100% free, 24/7. We are in the elite of blessed Christians – do not waste this gift. You were born in this time, in this place for a purpose; you can’t tell me that part of this purpose doesn’t include using such a vital opportunity to know Him more.
When I spend too long away from the Bible, I am far too quick to start absorbing lies about God. I have only to open the Bible and find that it is chock full of God telling us exactly who He is. He is faithful. (1 Corinthians 10:13) He is light – there is no darkness in Him at all. (1 John 1:5) He is the origin of all life and existence. (Genesis 1:1) He is the source of all good and will never change. (James 1:17) He provides everything that we need. (Matthew 6:26) He always keeps His promises. (Numbers 23:19) Everything He does is perfect. (Psalm 18:30) He is righteous and just. (Psalm 50:6) He will carry our burdens for us. (Psalm 68:19) He is always with us. (Joshua 1:9) He is unlike anything we could have ever imagined. (Micah 7:18, 2 Samuel 22:32)
God is here for us to know. The fingerprints of His love and character are stamped all over the Bible; when we deny the Bible, we’re denying an opportunity to know Him for ourselves.