Going into a new year, I think many of us set goals we hope to achieve. These goals might be health-related or related to our vocations, but the general idea is to make changes for the betterment of your life. But for the Christian, what goals should we make especially in regards to our spiritual health and growth.
If you are like me, you get a myriad of different emails, Facebook posts, YouVersion and other applications that encourage you to start a reading plan of the Bible for 2020. In a way, this is a blessing as we all need reminders and if technology can be used to do that, we should take advantage of it. So as we go into this New year, let us make reading the Scriptures a priority!
But I have a confession to make: reading the Bible consistently this year will be a challenge. It will not be any different than every previous year. Reading the Bible as God’s Word to me is difficult. It is easy to fall into the “pastor” view of the Bible. Instead of allowing God to speak to me, I look for the three points to speak about to others!
So what should be our motivation for reading it? What can the words of this book do in our lives to improve it? Peter says to Jesus in John 6:68, “You have the words of eternal life.” That statement in itself should be enough motivation. However, let me share some reasons why I read the Bible and why I think all of us should as we go into this New year.
For many of us, we identify ourselves by external things such as appearance, ethnicity and vocation. The only way you can adequately understand who you are and why you were given life and breath to do is when you look at yourself through the lens of the narrative of Scripture. The Bible tells us where we came from and defines who we are. It is only in this story that you will learn that you were made by God and for God, that everything you are and have comes from Him, and that you were made to live for something vastly more significant than yourself.
The Bible gives us an understanding of how and why we live our lives. When we get a new job, there is often a period of orientation. In that time, we learn about how and why we do the job. Sometimes this requires reading manuals and sometimes it is on the job training. But what about living life? For many of us, we live our lives with a limited understanding. You will never know all that you need to know to live as you were designed to live by human experience, research, and analysis. This is why God immediately spoke with Adam and Eve after He created them. In the same way, God speaks to us in His Word so that we can know and understand, and in knowing and understanding, live as we were created to live. As we live our lives, we refer back to the Bible for guidance and understanding.
The world in which you live can be very confusing, distressing, and painful. In many ways, all the difficulties we experience can make us feel isolated and alone. But the biblical story comforts us with another reality – that our world is not out of control and what we experience here is only temporary. Rather, our world is under the careful personal control of One who is the ultimate definition of everything that is good, true, wise, and loving. We can rest, not because we understand what is happening, but because we know the One who rules it all. When it is all said and done, the Gospel message we find in the Bible gives us hope which is comforting when facing the trials in life.
The hope we receive from God is the message of salvation through Christ. We go through life being valued and measured by our own efforts. We have this in our educational system, our workplaces and even in our homes. Success is almost impossible to attain. When it comes to our eternal salvation, we often apply the same formula. This is the ultimate reason for the Word of God. Without it, we would not know that our biggest problem exists inside of us and it is called sin. The biblical story chronicles the great things God has done and is doing to rescue, forgive, and deliver us from our sin. The epicentre of the narrative is the Cross of Jesus Christ, providing for us the one thing that we desperately need but cannot achieve on our own – new life.
The biblical story, because it is a story, has a final chapter. One day, the sickness, sadness, and sin of this broken world will end. We will be like God and with God forever. The Author of this Book has guaranteed the end of the story by raising Jesus from the dead. No matter what happens, we have hope because we know the final page has already been penned.
So as you continue to discipline yourself in the reading of Scripture in 2020, train yourself to read the Bible as a story. This story has one central character: God Himself, specifically in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
From cover to cover, the Bible is a narrative of His wondrous works and the blessings that are yours by grace. This old, old story imparts identity, understanding, comfort, salvation, and hope. This is our motivation and purpose for reading the Bible… He has the words of eternal life! May we, like Peter, and follow them.