How to Read the Bible: It’s Not About YouPosted: January 13, 2010
As we press on through week two of New Thru 30, I want to share a few thoughts to help you approach the Bible and your time reading God’s Word with the right perspective.
It’s important that we understand that the Bible is not primarily a moral guidebook. The Bible is not a collection of random stories stitched together to form a nice story book. The Bible is ONE story…God’s Story. And God’s Story is simply the greatest story ever told.
Here is the first of three principles to keep in mind as you read:
1. The Bible is not about you; it’s about Jesus.
Have you ever felt like your Bible reading was not working? You know…you read what you were supposed to that day, but when you came home from work, you still kicked the cat and snapped at your kids. Then we wonder what happened.
Most of us approach the Scriptures looking for practical insights on how to live better, how to behave, how to get our kids to behave, how to…well, fill in the blank with anything. We expect to walk away with a list of points to apply to make our lives better or a list of things to fix in our lives because God called us out.
While certainly the Bible does offer us help in honoring God with our lives, it is not primarily a moral guidebook. To view it as only a moral guidebook will leave us incredibly frustrated for two reasons:
- The Bible is not always obviously helpful. Admit it…you read Matthew 1 (the geneology of Jesus) and wondered, “Why the heck is that in the Bible? I have no idea what to do with that.” You have to read 11 chapters of Romans before you get to a single application command or imperative. And don’t even get started on the Old Testament, right?! All the twists and turns, long lists of names and places, etc. If the Bible is just a moral guidebook, we fly right past the confusing or hard stuff or we twist and manipulate it. In our attempt to “do something,” we miss the meaning of the Scriptures.
- No one could possibly uphold the moral standard presented in the Scriptures. Forget all the rest of it, let’s just start with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). How you doing on those? Or, check out Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). How’s that going for you? If the Bible is a moral guidebook, it becomes a crushing and impossible moral burden to bear.
Much more than a moral guidebook, the Bible is God’s Story of redemption and rescue through Jesus. The Bible is not a book given to dole-out moral lessons, but to teach us about Jesus so that we might delight all the more in Him.
If you’re frustrated in your Bible reading, it’s time to read differently. Stop thinking that the Bible is about you by looking for moral insights and start approaching the Bible looking for God’s redemption through Jesus in every text.
God wants us to live holy lives. But it’s possible only because of His grace towards us in and through Jesus. The Bible is about Jesus, not us.