I know what’s happening…you just let your eyes scan over that title of this post and immediately you are probably thinking, “another one bites the dust”. I came to the conclusion that I needed a break from reading the bible because I was pride-ing myself on how good I was for being such a great “student” of the Word. A long time ago, a friend of mine told me that he wished he knew just a fraction of the biblical passages and truths that I had forgotten. Remembering how I felt at the time when he said that to me still brings me a “shiver” down my proverbial spine. Understand, over the years, I’ve been a huge advocate and practitioner of bible reading disciplines…The One Year Bible (I read that 7 years in a row, whoopee), Quiet times (don’t even get me started), one chapter of OT/NT/and a psalm a day, the lectionary (both the Protestant and Roman versions I might add), you name it…I’ve probably done it with passion and purpose. In fact, I have a collection of bibles that fill about two entire bookshelves in my home….most of them, boldly and extensively highlighted with pithy and insightful notes in margins (of course). I think I know quite a bit about the bible…I’ve taught scores of bible studies over the years; preached thousands of sermons; written countless articles and papers on it; I’m even a biblical studies professor for God’s sake! You get the point.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am spoiled rotten with the text. Like a kid with his/her hand in the cookie jar…I can’t get enough…I can’t consume enough, to a point. Sing it with me, “the B-I-B-L-E yes that’s the book for me”. But remember, I’m spoiled. I’m holding on to the text with a truckload of pride and carrying it around like a trophy…but something is missing. It is like having a fancy fishing rod for fishing and never having used it to catch a trout. It is like saying you are an expert in relating and leading teenagers without ever having a child who grew to be a teenager in your own home. It is like saying you have the keys and title to a Porsche and bragging to your friends that you drive an expensive sports car without ever having taken it out of the driveway. It’s like playing “air guitar”…it is just not the real thing, is it?
The real issue is NOT just reading the text…it’s living it, isn’t it? I’ve been thinking lately about a few things – the Disciples of Jesus never carried a bible…millions of followers of Jesus over the centuries never had a bible on their shelf…never knew the differences between the KJV or NASB or NIV or ASB or NASA or UK or whatever…millions of Christ-followers over the centuries never heard of a quiet time…millions of Christ followers died a martyrs death having only heard a select passage or two during their entire lives. So, these things got me thinking…what’s the difference between how they lived out the Kingdom and how I experience God? The real issue is not just reading and knowing the text…if you’re in the boat, you have to get out the oars and row, right? Nice to be in the boat but without rowing, you’re just dead in the water. I know for me, any many other followers of Jesus, we are pretty happy about simply being “in” the Word…maybe we are to “into” it and not living it as we could. Mmmm…
So, I’m taking a vacation from reading the bible…to try to live what I’ve read. The issue isn’t knowing the Word; it is living and becoming the Word to the world. You know what I mean?