It’s a question I have asked at least as many times as I have been asked.
Here’s the truth:
- The genealogies don’t really do it for me.
- It’s not always clear if I’m reading history or fantasy, and I like things clear.
- The promotion of violence against women is appalling.
- Some of God’s Old Testament wrath is impossible to make sense of.
- Some of Jesus’ teachings are equally confusing.
- The sheer size of the book is rather daunting. (Maybe if the individual books of the Bible were released one by one like the Harry Potter series… or if there was a collector’s series that we could trade like Hockey cards…)
There are countless books by talented and faithful writers in my own time and context that speak to me of who God is; that inspire me to live out my faith in a way that makes a positive difference in the world.
So why is reading the bible important?
FEMINARIAN’S TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BIBLE
1. YOU WON’T BE LEFT IN THE DARK
When the world ends, all those who are holding their bibles will be plucked up by angels and brought to their glorious heavenly home, while all others will be left behind to suffer the same fate as their ignored and forgotten bibles: set motionless on shelves to be covered in dust, and boxed up in dank, dingy basements and attics.
Actually, I meant it figuratively.
You know that feeling when someone makes a Star Wars (or Seinfeld, or Simpson) reference and everyone seems to get it but you?
Well, you wanna know what’s referenced in pop culture even more than those three combined? That’s right – the Bible.
Knowing the Bible means you won’t be left in the dark when people talk about the Jesus symbolism in the Batman series or offer the character Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a refreshing image of God.
You may be surprised how many authors, directors, songwriters, screenwriters and playwrights draw upon biblical imagery and stories in their own works, and how interesting it can be to enter the conversation. The Bible still is a big deal out there, and it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon.
2. IT BELONGS TO YOU
Every book has an intended audience. There are textbooks for students, birding guides for ornithologists, and pregnancy manuals for expecting parents.
But the Bible was written for everyone across time and place. It does not belong solely to certain religious groups. It is fair game for everyone to read, experience and interpret.
Just as you don’t need a physics degree to talk about and experience gravity – you don’t need a theological degree to talk about and experience the Bible.
It might be difficult, even impossible at times, to believe that it was written for you. This is because your life is so different than the writers could have possibly imagined. This doesn’t change the intent: it was written to speak to you.
3. IT WILL MAKE GRANDMA AND GRANDPA HAPPY
Isn’t it time you were married? When I am going to be a grandparent? Have you been reading your bible?
At least you have a greater measure of control over that last one.
Having complained about this type of interrogation before, I am often told, “They just care about you and want what’s best for you.” And so, for just a moment – let me entertain that thought.
There are some things I have learned in life that I wish everyone knew because it would make their lives and our world better. If only they were written down and passed on from generation to generation to generation…
This must be how the biblical writers felt as they captured for us the stories that tell us about who and how God is in relationship with creation. They wanted to make our lives and our world better. They care about us and want what’s best for us, just like our grandparents.
I’ve gotta hand it to them – the book has stood the test of time. Perhaps it’s worth perusing?
4. RECLAIMING ANTIQUES IS SO HIP RIGHT NOW
The bible certainly is an antique. Now imagine it is that ‘great find’ in the rummage sale that just needs a little attention. Sure it’s been sullied over time – but what if it was stripped down and refinished? It might be just what you’ve been looking for.
What if you stripped away all the ways the bible has been used to justify violence in our world?
What if you stripped away the suppressive patriarchal language?
What if you came at the bible with curiosity about what exists beneath all the layers of misinterpretation and injustice?
Could you find the treasure within?
5. IT WILL KEEP YOU HONEST
Nothing can keep us honest about our tendency to create God in our own image like reading the bible.
In a time when slavery was commonplace and cattle had more rights than women, the biblical writers told of a God who spoke in ways they could understand.
We too, can only speak in ways that we understand. So despite our best efforts, the story that we tell about God is a limited by our own ability to vision.
The bible is an in-your-face example of our limits in expressing who God is. We must not for a second think that we are doing a better job than the biblical writers simply because we’ve fixed a few things. Still we must continue to do our best: seeking to discover how God is speaking to us through its pages.
SO LET IT ENTER THE COMPETITION
So much of our time and energy is given to or taken by industries and corporations that have their own best interests in mind. They too tell us stories about what will make us happy and how to make the world a better place. And they’re usually incorrect.
What if we let the biblical story enter the competition?
What if we place the refinished chair from our great-grandmothers house next to the IKEA couch to see how it fares?