What is the purpose of the Bible?
Recently I’ve had a number of instances where my doctrine and faith position have been challenged. Within the space of a year I’ve seen friends turn from the faith and I have been confronted by a number of unorthodox views which threatened to shake my own. I’ve been challenged to understand who God is and assess what I believe, and this has caused me to dig deeper into the Bible.
The truths that I’ve found within it have been astounding. Re-reading texts that I previously thought I knew has brought new insights. Yet, at the same time, I am troubled by my experience of seeing Christian’s neglect the word.
Making time for other things
There are many who find reading extremely enjoyable, but I’ve always preferred to go out and do things, be it playing football, or generally just being active. From my own experience, I used to find reading the bible to be a chore. Every night my mum would tell me to read one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New. Whilst this was without doubt a good practice, I didn’t enjoy reading books, so reading the bible felt extremely laborious.
As I grew older, I had the desire to read, however I struggled to understand the context of anything I was reading. This wasn’t helped by the fact that if I read, it would be in the morning when I was in a rush, or just before bed when I was tired. Therefore, it was important to take some practical steps towards my bible reading so that I understood what I was reading and read at the most convenient time.
I love history, so one of the steps was finding out the historical context behind the books. Ultimately the bible is one big story of man’s redemption through Christ. Within that, there is real history within the regions of the Middle East. Understanding the political and geographical climate during biblical times is something I’ve found fascinating.
There are a number of terms, doctrines and jargon that those who study the bible sometimes use, and this can put people off, but the Bible is meant to be understood by believers and we should devote time to doing so.
The other step was to get some consistency in my reading. This meant dedicating a time (not religiously), to reading that would not bring any real trouble to my schedule. I found that my commute was the best time to do this (except on days where I saw someone I knew on the train and didn’t manage to successfully hide). By instating this method, I was able to read through many chapters at time, which helped me to get a feel for the book I was reading.
Do you have to be an academic?
Now this is a bit of a generalisation, so forgive me as I know there are many Christians who do study the word, but in general, as a body, our knowledge is somewhat lacking. For the most part, I think this is down to the idea that studying the bible requires you to be academic. There are a number of terms, doctrines and jargon that those who study the bible sometimes use, and this can put people off, but the Bible is meant to be understood by believers and we should devote time to doing so.
As Christians there will be a time when our faith is tested. Through those testing times, it’s important that we know God and his character. If we don’t read and engage with the Bible, it becomes very difficult to know God in the midst of doubts. So let’s not neglect the word, but engage with it on a regular basis.