It feels strange to implore people that believe Jesus is the Messiah to read their Bible in a structured more disciplined manner. Most Americans, even those that do not believe or consider themselves Christians, have more than one Bible in their home. This is just a fact of life in America, dusty and unread Bibles abound here.
It seems odd that Christians believing Jesus took on flesh so that he could live a human life, sin free, and faultless, while suffering temptations and taking our sins upon himself in an unrighteous judgment resulting in His death in our place, need encouragement to open their Bibles and read in a structural manner. People that believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead, defeating death and opening the gate for humans to spend eternity in heaven, statistically do not open their Bibles.
In the book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Whitney there is a quote that hurts. V. Raymond Edman wrote, “Ours is an undisciplined age. the old disciplines are breaking down…Above all, the discipline of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from discipline.”
If we were at risk of losing a generation when Edman wrote that in 1948, we have lost multiple generations since. Those non-Bible readers Edman was writing to and about in 1948 had children that had children who had children who are having children. That is four generations, built upon those not reading their Bibles, compounding the problem for the past 70 years. This is the state of Christianity today.
As a Christian today, it is important we stop this slide to the extent we are able. Start with yourself, then make a difference in your family, and bring change to your small group/Bible Study group, and then within your church. If the “faithful” are not reading their Bibles, don’t they warrant quotation marks around the term?
The Bible is replete with examples of God saying reading and knowledge of Scripture is important. We have example after example of God’s ambassadors doing the same, imploring people to read and understand the Scriptures. This necessity has not changed today in modern times and we have more methods open to us for Biblical learning than ever before. The Bible is more readily available today than it has ever been in the history of man and we are largely more illiterate regarding the Bible than many points in history.
The Bible on tape takes roughly 71 hours to listen to the whole thing. If a person spent just 5 minutes a day in their Bible, within three years they will have read the whole book, cover to cover. Spending 15 minutes a day will yield the entire Bible within a year. This is not a difficult thing, but it does require discipline.
Americans can set their TIVO to record their favorite shows, make it home to watch a football game or baseball game, and learn and know hundreds of channels and their scheduled programming, while being unable to quickly thumb their way through their Bibles because they lack the knowledge of the books order and location.
So, how does a person go from an undisciplined life to a life of structured and dedicated biblical scholarship? They make a commitment to do it. If we have only 168 hours in a week, a person must decide on their own to set time apart everyday to open their Bibles so they can read, meditate, memorize, and learn from the book we have been blessed to possess.
No amount of someone else telling you how good it is for you will make a difference, if we lack the discipline to follow the advice. This must be a personal decision. A decision to move spiritual discipline further up the ladder and make it of greater importance in our lives. Adding the Bible to our schedule will not detract from our lifestyle, but it will enhance the quality of life. I guarantee it.
Lets build a model that is not only possible, but very doable.
- Make the time. Choose a time and stick with it. Make it in the morning, afternoon, or evening, it does not matter. What does matter is that we select a time and remain faithful to it. It is also wise to not select a time just prior to bed time because the build up of troubles and our desire to sleep and recharge will limit our effectiveness in reading and retaining anything of note. Like the elephant you have to eat one bite at a time, start with a manageable effort.
- Select a structured plan and stick with it. Just cracking open the Bible and leaving to happenstance what we read, is not a structured plan and misses the point of learning and identifying and seeing the consistent themes. There are a nearly limitless supply of Bible reading plans on the market, for free. The Bible Apps on phones have them and the internet is filled with them. Pick a plan and stick with it. It becomes very fulfilling to see progress and learn from the Bible.
- Accountability. After setting aside the time and picking your structured plan, inform someone that can hold you accountable. Make sure the person is empowered to ask about your faithfulness with your Bible. One of the things with the Bible Apps on phones is a person can be friends with others and enable them to see the progress made. This is one digital method of accountability.
The two books I referenced are available at the Amazon machine through the links below. Please consider buying them and reading the messages contained therein. While not as powerful as your Bible, they will empower a believer to devote greater time to their faith.