Pastor Jeff shared a few statistics this past Sunday. He said that even though the average American home owns 3 bibles, over half of those homes have read none or only a few sentences of the Bible. In preparing for this blog, I was tempted to dig out more similar Bible-reading statistics and then I realized that it was just my really lame attempt at making myself feel better (you know, the old I’m-not-as-bad-as-them way of making yourself feel better).
I confess that I don’t read the Bible as much as I should and that I have a hot-and-cold relationship with the Bible. There are days when I can’t put it down, when the words jump off the page and speak directly and clearly to me and then there are days when I can’t bring myself to pick it up. I call those days my ‘off the grid’ days. I’m not proud of those days, and they obviously happen way too often (as evidenced by the fact that I actually have a name for them).
I’ve been a Christian for over 15 years now, so it’s not like I don’t know the benefits of regular Bible reading. Its words have brought me comfort and hope when I needed it. It has corrected and instructed me when I lost my way and it has equipped me over the years for a lot that life has thrown my way. And yet I slack. It’s like I’m at a 24/7, all-year-round, all-you-can-eat-buffet and I refuse to eat even when the rumbling in my tummy is threatening to cause an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale!
So why am I like this? I would love to blame the fact that I’m busy with 4 kids and other responsibilities, but I know that’s just an excuse and not the real issue. I’ve spent some thought on the reasons for the capricious nature of my Bible reading and I’ve narrowed it down to 2. In doing this, I hope to inspire you to reflect on any Bible-reading barriers you may have too.
Here are mine:
1. Netflix is more interesting: There I’ve said it. Somedays reading the Bible is boring. I feel like I’ve read it all before and that there’s nothing new I can get from it. I’ve noticed that the days I find the Bible boring are the days that I’m reading it for all the wrong reasons. More specifically, when I’m doing it just so that I can tick it off my ‘God To-do list’.
Somehow, I don’t think that God wants me to read the Bible as an obligation. He wants me to read it because I love Him and desire to spend time with Him. It’s like you spending time with your significant other only because you must. Trust me, your loved one will be appalled at the idea that you are being forced to spend time with them. There’s something wonderful and fulfilling about spending time with a loved one just because and for no other reason.
Now I’m not saying that God will not speak to you when you are just going through the motions. In his goodness, He will, but when I read the Bible just to spend time with God, that’s when the pages really come alive. The Bible is so much more than just an instruction manual or a self-help book. It’s God’s love letter to us and one of the ways in which He chooses to communicate with us. When I look at it that way, Bible reading gets elevated from a chore to an exciting learning adventure.
2. I don’t feel worthy enough to read it: My ‘off the grid days’ usually correspond to the days when I don’t ‘feel’ like a good Christian. Full disclosure: I mess up all the time. There are days when I do, say, or think things that no good Christian should and I’m racked with guilt about it.
And what do I do when I’m feeling guilty?
Instead to running into the arms of my ever-loving Father, I follow in the footsteps of our first parents, Adam & Eve, and try to hide from God (as if that’s even possible). Then follows a vicious cycle of guilt → hiding from God → feeling guilty about hiding → and (you guessed it) some more hiding.
This goes on until I finally slow down enough to hear the Holy Spirit whisper ‘…there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8:1). The truth is that the time you’re feeling too guilty to go to God is EXACTLY the time you should go to Him. The devil would love nothing more than to keep you in this cycle of guilt and condemnation, but there truly is nothing that can separate you from God’s love (even yourself). Instead of running away, pick up His life-giving words and let them wash away the guilt and shame.
Hopefully, you’re not like me and don’t have this up and down relationship with the Bible. But if you do, don’t feel guilty that you find it hard sometimes. The fact that you feel bad is indication that you care and I encourage you to find out where your roadblocks are.
The wonderful thing is that His love for you doesn’t change with the ebbs and flows of your Bible reading. God loves you when you read your Bible and He loves you just as much when you don’t. What does change is your understanding of Him. The more time you spend with His word, the more of His character He’ll reveal to you. It’s His gift to you available 24/7, 365 days a year. What’s more, consuming it could prevent a few earthquakes in your life!
Betsy Sony is a stay-at-home mom who has the full-time job of looking after 4 beautiful girls. She came to the United States from India along with her husband Sony about 4 years ago and loves all things Skyline, reading, being outdoors, and experiencing new cultures and cuisines.