Stop reading the Bible like it’s meant to be a “feel good” book

The Bible is the single most important book every written. It describes how God created a universe to be the home for a people He made and gave life to, so He could forever live in relationship with them.

I could rattle off a bunch of statistics of how the Bible was written, has survived centuries, and its spread through languages, people groups, and nations. But many books have traversed the world with their stories and messages.

I’m not here to convince you of the uniqueness of the Bible. I’m not writing to convince you of its place in the world or the truth of its message. Chances are high that if you’ve read this far, you already own a Bible and believe at least some of what it says.

The Bible is more than a story. Its message is beyond “inspirational”. But when we open the Bible to read “a good book” or even to feel better about ourselves or life because we read a few lines or pages, we end up putting it down in disappointment.

A different kind of book

Sixty-six individual works create the collection we call the Bible. It was written by various men over hundreds of years, with an incredible gap between the testaments. Those who believe understand it to be the prophetic message of the one true God.

It tells of Creation, the Fall of man, the Flood, of the wanderer chosen to be the father of a nation, the salvation of that nation and its relationship with God, of the king whose love brought a unique and everlasting promise from God, of the Heir to the throne who came expected but unrecognized, of God’s loving sacrifice, describes all who believe can inherit, and so much more.

So why don’t we read it? What keeps us from these powerful words? Where is the disconnect between the message we are looking for and the words we find? Why do we choose to put it down, or maybe never pick it up?

We need to be reminded that reading the Bible is different from reading any other book. Though we proclaim it to be “the all-time bestselling book in history,” you can’t crack open the pages of this Book with the same mindset.

Maybe that is why we choose to read books about the Bible instead of reading the Bible for ourselves. Pastors and teachers keep putting things out there. They seem to have a good grasp on it. We prefer the way we feel after reading those books. So we choose them instead.

[bctt tweet=”We choose to read books about the Bible because we prefer how we feel after reading them.” username=”mackinnonchris”]

Falling short of what was advertised

Most books never catch our eye. I’m notorious for looking over shelves of books at bookstores and flying my eyes over spines and covers of hundreds of titles at a time. One of the signs a book is worth paying the money for is its placement on the bestseller list. If so many people are willing to spend their money and time on a book, it must be worth reading.

No, I don’t read every bestseller, even in my favorite categories. They do catch my eye, though. And if I convince my wife to let me spend the money for it, I dive in with a lot of expectation.

It should us surprise to hear many people read the Bible with a similar sense of expectation. If we tell them it changes lives and it is the word from God for their here and now, imagine the pressure we put on them to find something from those pages they will find inspirational and life-changing.

Then they open the book of Genesis and read about Creation, the Fall, and then the lists of names begin. Or maybe we point them to the Psalms to learn about the greatness of God, but all they see is a bunch of “poems” about how terrible life is. Some jump straight to Revelation to find out what is prepared for the future, only to be scared and confused.

My heart breaks to hear how people finally take the plunge into the depths of Scripture, only to jump in blindly or to a place they will get lost and confused. It’s like getting someone to try your favorite restaurant, but all they got a chance to try was the side dish of corn, and it left a bad taste in their mouth.

[bctt tweet=”Judging the Bible on a random selection is like choosing a restaurant based on a side dish.” username=”mackinnonchris”]

Forget the steak or chicken or ribs. No time for dessert. That spoonful was too salty, or too spicy, or too bland. It wasn’t what they were looking for, didn’t meet their expectations. So they got up and walked out without having an opportunity to enjoy the best parts and find satisfaction.

Fasten your seat belts

When pick up the Bible, stop for a moment and prepare yourself. It is one of those “fasten your seat belts” moments. (Or, to quote a line from the original Jurassic Park film, “Hold on to your butts.”)

Reading the Bible is like riding a roller coaster. If you aren’t strapped in, you will either fall over the side on a turn or fall from the sky on a loop. Yet people choose to ride roller coasters all the time because they find them fun and interesting, even though they’re sure it will be bumpy and uncomfortable.

[bctt tweet=”Reading the #Bible is like riding a roller coaster. If you aren’t strapped in, you will fall out.” username=”mackinnonchris”]

God didn’t give us His word to make us feel good. He gave it to us to reveal Himself, draw us to Him, and send us forward as His people. Reading the Bible can be bumpy and uncomfortable. Sometimes it hurts, and other times it makes us mad. Taken piece by piece, it can be boring and confusing. But put it all together, and it is life to the soul.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right. (2 Timothy 3:16 NCV)

I will never forget your commandments,
for by them you give me life.  (Psalm 119:93 NLT)