Saturday, January 02, 2016
Hindrances to Reading the Bible
At this time of the year, many people are resolved once again to read the Bible through in a year. But there are various hindrances to the fulfilling of that resolution which lead most to leave off the project well before it is finished.
To begin with, I would say that the Christian should feel no compulsion about finishing the Bible in a year. It’s merely a convenient way of thinking about it. There are plans for reading through the Bible in two years (http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/tgc/files/2010/12/TGC-Two-Year-Bible-Reading-Plan1.pdf) or even three years (http://www.moodychurch.org/static/uploads/globaladmin/bible_reading_plans/bible_threeyear.pdf). There is even a Bible reading plan for slackers and shirkers (http://www.ransomfellowship.org/publications/notes_biblereadingprogram.pdf). The point is not necessarily to get through the Bible in a specified period, but rather to be reading regularly in the Word of God. But there are hindrances even to that goal.
First Hindrance: An Inability (or Limited Ability) to read. If the reader is not a reader, there is a simple solution. Get an audio Bible and listen to the Bible. For the person who reads, but not well, I would recommend one of the simple-language translations of the Bible, such as the New Living Translation, the Contemporary English Version, or the New International Reader’s Version. Reading levels of various translations can be found here (http://www.mardel.com/bibleTranslationGuide) and at similar websites. I don’t ordinarily recommend those simple-language translations, but for the reader who does not read well, they are a decent place to start. For those who either don’t read, or don’t read well, I also suggest that you attend regularly a church where the Bible is read and preached from on a weekly basis (this applies more generally to all, regardless of reading ability). That will help you not only to read the Word, but to understand the Word.
Second Hindrance: Parts of the Bible are Boring. Absolutely right. The directions for building the tabernacle in Exodus 25-40; the sacrificial and cleanness regulations in Leviticus; the seemingly endless pronouncements of judgment in Jeremiah, all are places where people suddenly lose interest in reading through the Bible. So skip them. Especially if this is your first time through the Bible, you can glance at the subheadings provided in most modern translations and decide if you want to read, to skim, or to skip. Some parts of the Bible are more important than others. On the other hand, you might at least try reading these sections, going for the big picture and trying not to get lost in the details. After all, most of life itself is boring. Why should the Bible be any different?
Third Hindrance: I Don’t Understand It. Again, absolutely right. The Bible, being the Word of God, is as deep as God himself. I have been studying the Bible since I was converted 42 years ago. I have been studying it in a more professional manner since I began seminary 38 years ago. I have been teaching the Bible at the seminary level for 25 years. Though I understand a great deal more of it than I did when I first started, there is much that I still do not understand. The man who claims to understand all of the Bible is a liar and a fool. So recognize at the outset that there will be much you don’t understand. Pray for grace to understand as much as you can, and pray for patience to struggle through the parts that are completely incomprehensible.
Fourth Hindrance. I don’t have the time. Wrong. How much time do you spend on social media, television, movie streaming services? Surely there are fifteen minutes you can carve out of every day to spend time in the Word of God. Not every day’s reading will be a profound spiritual experience. But a daily dose of the Word of God will, carried out patiently over time, produce the fruit of God in your life. So go ahead. Try it.