Last fall I wrote this post, asking the question Do you like the Bible, or just study it? Today I am releasing an entire book with the sole purpose of helping you answer that question with a resounding Yes, I like it a lot! The title sums it up: 10 Tips for Liking the Bible (Because Believing It’s True Is Not Enough).
Below is an excerpt from Tip 1: Remember why you are doing this. I hope you like it.
A Mental Picture that Changes Everything.
Some days God wants you to read the Bible and not learn anything.
That may sound a little strange coming from someone who writes and speaks about studying the Bible for a living. Stick with me for a few more paragraphs and you’ll see what I mean.
My wife, Kari, and I have three kids. There are days – or parts of days – when I need to teach my kids something. Other days I need to discipline them. Still others require that I correct them, encourage them, comfort them, or even inspire them to be more than they would otherwise be on their own.
There are also days when we just play catch. Or ride bikes. Or bake cookies. (Ok…Kari does the baking with them. I do the Quality Assurance Testing.)
Here’s the deal: Those days when we only play together are not less valuable! In many ways, they are more valuable than the days of instruction and correction.
Could you imagine the expressions on Sarah’s, Caleb’s, and Hannah’s faces if Kari and I sat them down, looked them in the eyes, and I said,
“Your mother and I have decided there is just too much to teach you. Too much you need to be corrected on, instructed about, and yes, even some occasional comforting. Because of this, we have decided we will do no more playing. You three can play with each other and your friends. But we are here to teach, discipline, and comfort you. Off you go.”
I can hear the thoughts in your head. No way. That’s insane. How can you give up playing with your kids? That’s not a relationship at all.
Aha. Not a relationship at all.
And yet, so often, that is how I tend to view God. When I pick up the Bible I am supposed to learn something, get corrected, be inspired, or read some comforting words. Of course there are days when these things happen. But hear this clearly: Sometimes God wants you to pick up His Word and just enjoy the read.
I remember talking to a friend one time who is an actor and director. He told me of a conversation he had years earlier with an older, British director. Their conversation was about whether the Bible could hold its own on stage with some of the great theater productions. Not whether it was true, but whether it was good theater. After a few minutes, this older man said [insert British accent here]:
“Well, you know…the Bible is the Word of Almighty God. But it also happens to be a jolly good read!”
God has much to teach us. We have much to learn. But don’t miss the story. It is such a fantastic story! There are heroes, battles, and villains. There are crazy characters, and yes, some dull ones. There are plot twists, mystery, and intrigue. There is humor. Lots of it. I’m not kidding. (Pun intended. Forgive me.)
One of my favorite things about presenting the Gospel of John is watching how frequently the audience laughs. They don’t expect to. But they do. Every time.
After all, what is the story of the gospels? Aren’t they four accounts of thirteen guys on a three-year road trip? Have you ever been on a road trip? Funny stuff happens.
Not only that, but the most serious, biblical scholars will tell you that at least a handful of the disciples were teenagers. Have you ever been on a road trip with teenagers?! As someone who spent six years as a youth pastor, I can assure you that laughter is part of the deal.
Even after two decades of telling these stories, it is so easy for me to go back to simply gleaning information from the pages of Scripture, rather than being engulfed by the story. I have to constantly remind myself: It is about the relationship.
Relationship. Relationship. Relationship.
You will be tempted to go back to information. Don’t do it.
Each time you sit down to hang out with God in His Word, get this picture in your mind: God as a Daddy who wants to play with you. As your mindset shifts from information to relationship, you will find that you are more likely to be ready on the days when God does want to teach you something, inspire you, discipline you, or comfort you.
And you will find that you like the Bible, and the Author, more than ever before.