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Browsing the Library

Dan Scott

The Bible is a funny old book, and let’s be honest sometimes not the easiest book to read. A number of people have told me how they started reading it, got off to a good start but got lost, bogged down or bored in the middle of Leviticus (somewhere between the bit about splashing pigeon blood around and cleansing your house from defiling moulds perhaps?) Let’s be honest, they did well to get that far!

The thing is the Bible isn’t a book, it’s a library, written by many different people in different styles and places over hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. It’s a collection of different stories, poems, prophecies, apocryphal visions, wise sayings and more written by real people in real situations to address real problems and questions of their time. So it’s no wonder that if we approach it as a bestselling novel we’ll get bogged down.

The radical claim of Christianity though, is that all these stories fit into one big story; the story of God’s move of love towards humanity, towards us. This story ultimately culminates in the way He has come to walk this earth and bring salvation in the person of Jesus Christ, in the way He now builds His church and will one day make all things new through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So maybe that’s a good place to start reading this story of stories.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John at the start of the New Testament tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Acts tells the story of how the church was born after He was gone.

When we get some of this, we might be better placed to read some other parts of the Bible and see how they fit into this great story. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll get back to Leviticus and work out what that cleansing from defiling moulds is all about (Do let me know if you do!)

Maybe a few pointers might help you beyond this:

  1. BE REALISTIC – Set yourself the goal of reading a small amount each day so that you can build a rhythm rather than challenging yourself with something too big and falling at the first hurdle. If you miss a day, don’t worry, just carry on the next day.
  2. BE CONSISTENT – With a realistic goal it’s much easier to read regularly, but also think about what you’re reading. Reading through one book of the bible bit by bit will help you build up a story and picture rather than jumping all over the place.
  3. BE PRAYERFUL – If we want the Bible to speak to us, if we believe it is a library that God can use then we need to ask Him. Pray before you read – remind yourself that what you’re reading is special, and that God’s Spirit is with you to help you.
  4. BE REFLECTIVE – Spend a bit of time thinking about what you’ve read. What questions does it raise for you, what does it tell you about God and yourself? And how can you learn more about Jesus through this passage? If it’s helpful why not write down a few thoughts in a notebook or on your phone.

FINALLY, remember you can engage in the Bible in lots of ways; not just personal reading. You can get it on an app on your phone, you can listen to it read out, you could read it out loud or listen to it read with others, you could get a print-out of a passage and draw/write all over it. Find ways that help you to engage with these stories that tell us of God’s great story.

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