Perhaps you just hate clicked this article ready to scream “heretic” and burn me at the stake while shouting “NO ONE SHOULD EVER QUIT READING THE BIBLE!”
To which I say, “oh hey kind stranger, welcome.”
Before you strike the match, let me (quickly) say that I do believe the bible is the most influential book in history and it has more power to change a person’s life than any other text ever written (along with Harry Potter).
You’re lighting the match again aren’t you…
Although I have spent most of my twenties trying to follow the disciplines of a “Good Christian,” I rarely spent time in the Word (as Christany people call it). The faithful friends I respected told me how important it was, however, reading it felt like studying Shakespeare—gory, confusing, and lifeless.
I definitely shouldn’t admit that, right? I mean, religion says we have to uphold appearances and make people believe we are “doing it right” at all times. I write a Christian blog for goodness sake, how could I struggle with reading the bible?
Like the tourists at the gym, I’ve spent years trying for a few weeks and then quitting, running a few laps through the books I like then going back to my complacent, it’s-too-cold-to-get-out-of-bed lifestyle.
And I think maybe a lot of Christians can identify with that.
Why was I failing to spend time with God and my bible?
The real answer: I was reading the bible for all the wrong reasons.
And so I quit (gasp!). And so should you… for a few hours to examine why you read the bible and why you have failed to fall in love with the bible (unless of course you haven’t failed… in which case this is awkward…).
Anyway… here are 6 reasons why you should quit reading your bible (And how to start again).
1.) You Do It For Show
The truth is, God could care less about the things you do to impress religious people. If all you’re doing is trying to convince others that you aren’t a messed-up, sinner with smelly, mismatched socks like the rest of us—just quit.
Instead, find a quiet place with just you and God and start again. Ask him to remove all of your temptations to appear pious and holy and finally let him into all the crap you’ve been hiding.
Maybe start by journaling about all the lies you believe about yourself or why you’re afraid to let anyone know you’re not perfect.
Then look at all the passages God calls us to be humble and quiet in our faith to him.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. —Matthew 6:2
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. —Matthew 6:5-6
2.) You Only Read the Parts You Like
For a very long time I ignored the Old Testament completely. It’s embarrassing how immature that was, but who really wants to read about lineage and circumcision anyhow?
We can debate about the historical inaccuracies or the Dan Brown-worthy biblical conspiracies longer than a Lord of the Rings marathon but I truly believe what it says in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
Maybe you missed that subtle word — ALL. If you only ever read the parts with the unicorns and warm-fuzzies, you are actually flat out ignoring the breadth and depth of the word of God.
Challenge yourself to dig into parts of the bible you don’t understand or would normally run from screaming. Consider picking up a commentary book to help (This series by David Platt is one of my favorites) or reading different versions of the bible (I love the Message and Voice translations to accompany my NIV)
3.) You Don’t Take Time to Process What You’re Reading
In order for the word of God to sink in, you have to actually engage and think about what it says. My friend Matt shared one method they used in his missionary training: Read it, Write it, Speak It, Pray It, Sing it.
As an elementary teacher, I love this because it engages different areas of your brain! I also really like the SOAP Method that I have shared with all of you before.
S – Scripture – Take time to read that day’s passage allowing time for God to speak to you. Write down parts that stuck out to you. O – Observation – What caught your attention in this verse? Ask the holy spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you through these words. Write down the verse in your own words. A – Application – Personalize what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation, or guidance for a particular area of your life. P – Prayer – Ask God to help you use this scripture in your everyday existence. Remember prayer is a two-way conversation, write down your prayer and if you hear anything in response.
Avoid the temptation to just let your eyes glide across the page. Instead, sit and meditate on the word of God creating space to hear what God might be saying to you.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. -Joshua 1:8
4.) You Do it Out of Obligation
Nobody wants to be loved from a place of obligation because that’s not actually love at all. Love stems from a place of desire and requires an on-going pursuit.
I think God feels the same way. He doesn’t want you to read your bible because you think you should, he wants you to spend time with Him out of the type of love that Jesus described in Matthew:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ -Matthew 22:37
If you’re only reading your bible because you think you should, maybe take time to ask what’s behind that? Does God love you more or less depending on whether you read your bible? (no). So what is keeping you from a sincere love of God and his word? [If you’re looking for ways to rejuvenate your time in the bible, check out my post 10 Ways to Fall In Love With Your Bible]
5.) You’re Using It to Argue and Prove Just How Right You Are
I am all about standing up for Truth -for gently and humbly sharing the ways God has called us to live. Although I will never understand why some Christians do this with megaphones, scathing blog comments and shouting matches. I just don’t see any place in the bible where Jesus lived that way.
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about (because you live under a rock) go read a few of the over 500 delightful and constructive comments on my post 12 Reasons Millennials are Over Church on tosavealife.com.
I think that level of in-fighting is actually the biggest reason people are turned off from Christianity. Instead, God calls us to conduct ourselves like this:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. -Colossians 3:12-14
If you’re reading the bible to prove how right and holy you are, just quit. Instead, pick it up again ready to stand up for truth in a loving, patient and compassionate manner that will actually lead people to Jesus.
6.) You’re Not Interested in Letting it Change You
It’s crazy how many years I spent going to church and flat out ignoring the person the bible was calling me to be. I would spend Saturday nights getting wasted and Sunday mornings pretending to be legit (and trying not to throw up).
I was living a lie, loving the things of this world and laughing in God’s face when he would gently nudge me towards a better way of living.
Trust me when I say spending your life loving God and loving his people is the only way you will ever feel fully and recklessly alive (And helping you find that life is the reason I do this whole blog thing at all).
Ask God to show you the areas of your life that need changing. Pray for help and guidance in getting the sin out of your life. Reach out to someone for help in this time of transition and start spending time each morning with your bible. Don’t just hear God’s word, but live it out to the best of your ability and see just how incredible life can become.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. -Galatians 5:19
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. -Luke 11:28
So what turned it all around for me? Honestly, it was seeing the faithfulness of my above-mentioned friend Matt (who happens to have a blog you should subscribe to here.)
It was in one of my first discussions with him about how he wakes up at the crack of down without fail to spend time with God. Much of what he shared with me you can now read in this awesome first blog post here. It was seeing finally this connection between knowing the faithful follower of Jesus I wanted to be and getting to know someone who was already living that way.
And something just clicked.
And the result? It’s CRAZY how much I have heard from God in such a short amount of time. I go to sleep excited to get up and spend time with Him and my coffee mug. I can’t imagine not starting my day of with his encouragement and promises from this guy that loves me so freaking much.
So, if you are reading the bible for the wrong reasons, it’s time you quit… and start reading it for the right reasons. Drop the act of religion and start to fall in love with the bible.
Start today! Set your alarm clock, make a plan and get after it. It might feel awkward at first figuring out what to read or what to say, but all relationships take time and require that we show up.
For lutefisks sake, don’t actually ever quit reading your bible. Ever. Instead, read it consistently and for the right reasons and you will finally see just how good life can get. Find that amazing place where you crave time with God every day. Pursue him with all your heart and you’ll find him. Oh, you’ll find him.<