Reading the Bible is a good idea. Reading through the Bible in 30 days is a good idea. Getting people to read their Bibles is a good idea. I applaud Crossway on their new Bible, Reader’s Gospel, and I pray that many will use it and find life through it, and the reading plan designed to go with it. And that’s what’s wrong with their reading plan. The purpose of the plan is to tick the box that says you did it – that’s it. They follow the same pattern of most Bible reading plans. Here is what you are to read today. Read it. Tick the box that says you have read it. Celebrate.
THE problem with their reading plan is it’s purpose. Read your Bible. Tick the box that says you read it.
Doing spiritual exercises for the sake of doing spiritual exercises may, perhaps, if you get lucky, produce Christ-like character. Spiritual exercises are like physical exercises. If you haven’t done any before than anything is good. But aimless exercise won’t sustain you, nor help you long-term, and could actually hurt you if you aren’t really ready for it. If your purpose is to read the gospels in 30 days then at the end of 30 days you get to say, “I read the gospels in 30 days.” How does that help you? If you are a brand new Christian then just like the couch potato that decides to exercise you have a good chance of getting something out of ‘just reading your Bible’. But if you have been a Christian for awhile, if you have read through your Bible before, chances are this exercise will not help you at all. In fact, it will probably put you off consistently reading your Bible because there will be little benefit to doing it. You exercise to get healthier. If you aren’t getting fitter, stronger, faster – you quit.
Intentional exercise for an intentional outcome is always better than a suck and see approach. Those who train with purpose will produce better results.
A better approach is to have a better purpose behind your reading. For example, as you read through the gospels in 30 days ask yourself, “What do I learn about God from this passage?” Answering that question alone will cause you to engage with the passage as you read it. Anyone can read without thinking. Anyone can read a passage and at the end of it not remember a thing they read. So ask a question before you read it and see what it says about that question. Take 30 days, read through the gospels and ask, “What do I learn about God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit from this passage?” Or perhaps, “What do I learn about people from this passage?”
Here are some other ideas:
- How does Jesus disciple throughout the gospels?
- How does Jesus connect with people?
- How does Jesus teach?
- Jesus always acts in love, so what does love look like in the gospels?
- In what ways is this good news to me?
- How does Jesus live in the grace of God?
- What does this passage mean for those who in live in the Kingdom of God?
- What do the gospels talk about the most?
- Perhaps you might want to read emphatically, through the eyes of someone else.
- Is there an example I can follow from this passage?
- How can I apply this passage to my life today?
- What do I need to change to align my life more to this gospel?
- What is my response to this passage?
- What is the writer trying to tell me?
Perhaps you will want to read it empathetically, through the eyes of another person:
- What hope does this book offer me as a homosexual? How will Christians who believe in this gospel respond to me, a homosexual?
- I am a refugee arriving in this country. I will encounter Christians. How will they treat me? I am a Muslim.
There are lots of questions you can ask about the gospels that will produce a richer and deeper experience than a “I read the gospels in 30 days – yay”.
I want to encourage you to print out a Bible reading plan and work your way through the gospel section over the next 30 days. On top of the plan write one question you will ask every day as you read through it. Let me know in the comments below what question you ask yourself and don’t forget to subscribe.