For most of my life, I believed that if I walked away from my daily time in the word feeling encouraged and fulfilled, that meant I was doing something right and that I was “close” with God. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve wondered something: If that’s really the case, what happens when I don’t feel any emotion when I read my Bible? Does it mean that God doesn’t love me right now or that I’m doing something wrong? Worse still, does it mean I’m not a Christian?
Over the years, I have realized that I won’t always feel a strong emotional pull toward God when I spend time reading my Bible or praying. I used to think it was because I was in a dry spell, or I was simply in a tough season in my relationship with God. And while that may have sometimes been the case, I think most of the time I just didn’t understand what the purpose of the Bible truly is.
If I am honest with myself, I have always read the Bible as though it were a book about me. I have read it as though it was supposed to be a roadmap that would lead me and guide me throughout my life. And I thought every single scripture verse would have applicable meaning to my life in some way.
But I was wrong…
I have recently begun reading Women of The Word by Jen Wilkin, and thanks to her incredible tips and tools for studying the Bible, I have learned something invaluable. This may not come as a surprise to you, but it did to me.
You see, the Bible is not a book about me.
If I simply read the Bible and view it is a book about how I am supposed to live my life, then it’s no wonder I struggle through some of the books in the Old Testament. I mean, really? How am I supposed to apply some of that stuff to my life?
Well, because I’m not!
“I failed to understand that the Bible is a book about God. The Bible is a book that boldly and clearly reveals who God is on every page… Perhaps I really did know that the Bible was a book about God, but I didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading it as if it were. This is where I got things backwards: I approached by study time asking the wrong questions. I read the Bible asking, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What should I do?’ And the Bible answers these questions in places… But the questions I was asking revealed that I held a subtle misunderstanding about the very nature of the Bible: I believed the Bible was a book about me.” (Wilkin, 23-24)
As you can see, the Bible is a book about God.
Sure, there are certain passages of scripture (such as the epistles) that give clear instruction for how to live our lives. But when I read anything in my Bible, I need to view it as an incredible history that points to Jesus Christ. The overarching theme of Bible is the glory and the majesty of our God, and that we have an amazing Savior who loved us enough to die on the cross to save us from our sins. From Genesis to Revelation, everything points to Christ.
“If our reading of the Bible focuses our eyes on anyone other than God, we have gotten backwards the transformation process. Any study of the Bible that seeks to establish our identity without first proclaiming God’s identity will render partial and limited help. We must turn around our habit of asking ‘Who am I?’ We must first ask, ‘What does this passage teach me about God?’ before we ask it to teach us anything about ourselves. We must acknowledge that the Bible is a book about God.” (Wilkin, 27)
When I finally realized that I was reading the Bible as though it were a book about me, it’s as if a lightbulb went off in my head. I just couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized this before. But it all makes sense now.
For years I struggled my way through the Bible. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve attempted to read the Bible in a year and failed. And I truly think it was because I was getting burned out. I wasn’t understanding the purpose of some of the things I was reading. Honestly? I must have thought the Bible was a book about me.
Maybe you can relate. And maybe this is just what you needed to hear.
If that’s you, there’s hope. It’s never too late to learn how to study God’s word. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, and every day I learn something new. That’s called sanctification, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, it’s a very good and beautiful thing.
If you’re looking for tips on how to study the Bible, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Women of The Word! You can get it on Amazon for just a few bucks. (And no, this is not a sponsored post!)