How NOT to Read the Bible
By Joel Greenwood
The apostle Paul told Timothy that the Bible is useful for teaching others (2 Timothy 3:16); however, this is only true if we read it the way God intended us to read it. That being said, here are three ways the Bible is not intended to be read:
1. We don’t read the Bible to prove something we want to believe.
The Bible is the basis for our beliefs, but when we read it, we should be open to how God can use it to teach us. If we say, “I already believe that X is true and I want the Bible to back me up,” then we are approaching the Bible with a me-first attitude, which leads to the second bad way to read the Bible:
2. Remember, we are not the main characters of the Bible.
It’s easy to get into the habit of reading a chapter or verse and then asking the question, “What does this say about me?” If we do that, though, we can often miss the real point of the passage, which almost always wasn’t written about us.
3. The Bible doesn’t equate our national identity with our spiritual identity.
As with many of our brothers and sisters around the world, we are grateful to God for the country in which we live (and that’s a great attitude to have!), but it’s wrong to use the Bible to declare one country as greater than the other. The truth is that God is the God of the WORLD (and John 3:16 tells us that he loves the world!), and to declare that he values one country over another can quickly lead to us valuing one nationality over another, when God has an unending love for all people, regardless of earthly citizenship!
With that, we’ve covered three ways not to read the Bible, but the remaining question we’re left with, then, is “How DO we read the Bible?” And a great way to read the Bible is by remembering the following:
God is the main character of the Bible.
We read the Bible as the story of his creation of the world and how he redeemed it even after it fell apart. By looking at God as the hero, we can see how we fit into his saving plan.
A great question to ask after reading a passage of Scripture is, “What does this say about God?” By using this question as a launching point, we can hopefully pull away from our own assumptions about who God is and begin to learn with fresh eyes, as well as with an attitude of worship. As a result, we can expect to see the story of God in a new light, and we may perhaps fall in love with God all over again as we intentionally declare him to be the Hero and Savior of our story.