Did you know that today is Bible Sunday? A day for us to celebrate the Bible and the role that it’s played in the worship and teaching of the church for thousands of years!
Over 100 million copies of the Bible are sold each year, and the full Bible has been translated into 532 languages. Many people, across the world own a copy of the Bible. You even find copies in bedside tables of hotels.
But does this mean that all these Bibles are read, studied and meditated upon? A survey commissioned by the Church of England found that 60% of those who call themselves Christian never read the Bible.
This is CRAZY!
For people who declare themselves to be Christian to not see the importance of reading the Bible means we are not treating the Bible in the way that we should.
So how do you treat the Bible?
Do you treat the Bible like an inspirational speech?
This is a super common way that I see people using the Bible. They turn to the Bible when they need cheering up. They pull out these motivational quotes that suit what they want to hear, and they ignore the context, the background, what these quotes actually mean. Some classic examples are: Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:13 and Mark 11:24.
This is an issue because it means we aren’t giving the Bible the respect it deserves. By turning it into a series of motivational quotes, we put it on the same level as any other motivational quote, disregarding both the author and the wider story.
Do you treat the Bible as a user manual?
The Bible is full of instructions, advice and guidance. But it can be easy to start reading it as a user manual: a set of instructions that we must follow to reach an end goal, or get what we want. To a certain extent the Bible does provide us with a list of instructions to achieve the goal of being more Christ-like, but thinking like this can lead to us believing that this is a goal we can reach. Something that one day we will achieve or “finish”, which we know is not true because we are human and therefore flawed and sinful.
Do you treat the Bible like a collection of fairy tales?
This method of using the Bible is especially common in (poorly-run) children’s ministry and Sunday school. Think back – what do you remember learning about? For many people, it consisted of a series of fairy-tale like stories complete with a moral to the story. There was Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale. These were all fantastic biblical stories to learn about, but they are so often taught with no thought for how they fit into the wider story of the Bible. They are taught as one-off stories that can teach us how we should act. Shouldn’t we also be looking at how they fit into the Bible? What they tell us about God?
Do you treat the Bible like a school textbook?
Some people love to study the Bible. Like really study it. We can highlight passages, make notes, read commentaries, cross-reference with other translations. These are all fantastic things to do, but if this is all we ever do we can easily fall into the trap of thinking of the Bible purely as a textbook. The issue here is that this can prevent us from seeing the joy of the Bible. Did you ever read a school textbook and love what you read? Did it make you love the author? Did it make you want to change the way you live? Unlikely.
So how should we treat the Bible?
Firstly, we should treat the Bible as a collection of books, that all tell one story: the story of Jesus. Every single book, every single verse, fits into this one over-arcing story. Whenever we read a section of the Bible, we should be aware of how it fits into this story.
Secondly, we should treat it with reverence and respect. This is God’s word. With an author such as this, this book deserves a respect far greater than the respect we show to earthly authors. We also need to treat this book as the truth. The one written source of God’s truth. How can we not treat this with respect?
Lastly, we should treat the Bible with joy. This is not a book we have to read, it’s a book we have the privilege to explore. What a blessing to be able to access God’s word so easily! Don’t treat it as a chore, approach the Bible with joy!