Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Youtube, Gifs, Memes, Twitter, Instagram, we could go on and on. What do all these things have in common? They all require a minimum amount of reading. We are very visually oriented and prefer videos, charts, and pictures over words, sentences, and paragraphs. While I don’t think this is a worrisome trend per se, I do believe it harms our ability to read well. I’m not even thinking about illiteracy in the primary meaning of the word, I’m thinking about people who read and who may even enjoy reading, but who don’t read well.
Few books have suffered more from this inability to read well than the Bible. While I wholeheartedly agree that you need the influence and work of the Holy Spirit to truly understand the Bible in a way that it transforms your life, it is also very true that the Bible is a work of literature. What happens when spiritual people treat the Bible as non-literature, that is to say, they read the Bible poorly, can be seen all around.
When, for example, was the last time you heard somebody say the phrase “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” with reference to the original context in the book of Philippians? To the surprise of many, Paul talks about contentment in both lack and abundance of material / financial means. Few people read this section well. Or when was the last time you heard somebody teach about the faithfulness of God from Genesis 24, the story where Abraham’s servant finds a wife for Isaac? Quite a few people go to this passage to find dating advice. The list goes on.
Now, I’m not saying I know how to read the Bible well. I have, however, been blessed to meet people and find resources that have helped me read the Bible better. It’s actually not that hard. In this series, I am hoping to share some of these things. Stay tuned!