Lake Wylie Baptist Family,
Have you ever read one of the big classic novels? I’m talking about books like Pride and Prejudice, The Brothers Karamazov, and War and Peace. Those books intimidate readers for several reasons. First, they are long. It will take a large investment of time to work through them. They’re also full of new character names and, in the case of the Russian novels, difficult character names. Feeling overwhelmed by complicated relationships and multiple plot lines, many readers give up and never experience the joys of completing the story.
The same can happen for first-time Bible readers. Just like those big Russian novels, the Bible is chocked full of characters, plots, and subplots. The Old Testament speaks to an ancient Hebrew world, and the New Testament speaks within the context of a Hellenized (Greek) Roman empire. On top of all that, the Bible is full of different kinds of literature: narrative, poetry, law codes, and more. Those of us who have read the Bible daily for years often forget what it’s like to have to stop every line or two to reference a term we don’t understand.
All that being said, here is my exhortation to you: don’t let the intimidation of this new Biblical world stop you. It may slow you down, but do not stop. Mortimer Adler, writing about the intimidation of big novels says that we don’t allow that same intimidation to stop us from attending parties or moving to a new town. Adler writes, “They do not give up in those circumstances; they know that after a short while individuals will begin to be visible in the mass, friends will emerge from the faceless crowd of fellow-workers, fellow-students, or fellow-guests.” (1) We may not remember all the names, but we will remember the person talked to for an hour. Even though there are many plot points, read long enough and you will discover the most critical moments of the story. The same is true with Scripture.
Church, I cannot stress this enough: we must root ourselves in the living and abiding Word. (1 Pet. 1:23) Every member of our church needs to possess a working knowledge of the Bible. You need not be a Bible scholar, but the culture in which we live grows increasingly antithetical to our faith every moment and the Word will be an anchor in the stormy years to come. It won’t be enough to attend church for an hour a week. You must cultivate the habit of Scriptural intake.
There are plenty of resources available to you. The Same Page Summer reading plan is leading us through the New Testament this summer. Beginning in September I will be releasing a Bible Reading Challenge that will take us through the entire Bible by May of 2023. This means following those two plans will take you through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in a single year. If you get bogged down or miss a few days, get back up. Don’t try to catch up. Just pick up on the current day of the plan. There are hundreds of other resources out there, and the plan I create isn’t magical. But don’t sit on the sidelines. Get in the game. Read the Word.
And I promise you this: if you will commit to meeting God in his Word, and if you do that for several years, you can’t imagine the riches of wisdom and character and hope that come from his Word. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. (Psalm 119:105) I pray you will hide God’s Word in your heart. (Psalm 119:11)
(1) Van Doren, Charles; Mortimer J. Adler. How to Read a Book (p. 214). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.