The Risky Business of Bible Reading

The Bible isn’t like any other book. To read it is to be confronted.

It confronts us with the truth about ourselves and the truth about God. One thing we learn as we read it is that reading it is not necessarily a holy act. Reading the Bible may be the most sinful thing you could do, if you use it, rather than come under it in humility.

Reading the Bible to gain standing with God or other people is one way we use it sinfully. Reading it to know God, to be taught by him, to receive from him, is the only way we can read it rightly. There is a sense in which the study of the Bible can itself become a god. We can read it in such a double-minded fashion that we believe because we study it, we know the One whose book it is. To read the Bible and not be changed by it, is risky. To read the Bible in order to look smart, is to profoundly reject what it actually teaches.

The Bible’s purpose is two kinds of knowing. Knowing the information and stories in the pages, and knowing the Person. You can have the first without the second. You can’t have the second without some amount of the first.

As I reflect on how I’ve read the Bible, there has been much of the wrong kind of reading over the years. There are so many temptations to read it like a cookbook, or a self-help pamphlet, or fix-it manual, or to look holy. Yet, in all that, there has been profound grace. In all the mis-use and tainted motivations, the Person in the pages has been revealed. The evil motives have been confronted as the reading rolls on. Repentance has been taught. Forgiveness has been given.

Reading the Bible will always be risky business and we shouldn’t take it lightly. A healthy dose of humility and fear should accompany our reading. But NOT reading the Bible is whole different kind of frightening. Taking it for granted, ignoring it, assuming we know it all already, avoiding the confrontation we know it will bring–that’s as close to soul suicide as I can think of.

Do you have a Bible? Are you willing to have your life crushed and reborn? Do you want to know God? Then read your Bible and ask the Person in the pages to meet you there.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1-4 ESV)