You know, I can't remember how I was first taught to read the bible. I do know that for a long time I didn't read it at all because it seemed so boring and unrelatable. That was my immature teenage self (I was saved at the age of 13). No one ever really took the time to show me or explain to me how I should view scripture, how I should approach it, how I should read it and study it.
Eventually my family landed in a church where we experienced expository teaching for the first time. I think it was then that I began to understand that scripture was more than just words on a page and a bunch of unrelated stories. I started to see how each and every word was God-breathed, straight from the Lord and there is a purpose to it all: Jesus.
But even then, for a long time, I always read the bible with a "me" perspective. What I mean by that is that everything I read, I approached with these questions: "how does this relate to me? what's in this for me? how does this change my life? what is God saying to me?"
And don't get me wrong. Obviously the word does relate to me and you, personally. We belong to a personal God. He calls us by name and knows us personally. He has an individual purpose, specific to each one of our lives. We have a personal relationship with Him and He absolutely wants us to read His word willing to be changed personally by the words contained within it.
But then again, it's not about me. It's about Him.
It's all about Him.
And when I applied that truth to how I read scripture, everything changed.
I have understood for a long time that everything I do in this life, all that the Lord has purposed for me, all that I am, is here to glorify the Lord. That's what it all comes down to. My life is about Him and His glory.
But what's funny is that I never related that to how I read scripture. I related it to how I treat my family and friends, to the activities I choose to be apart of, to the words I write on this blog, to the way I care for the needy, to the clothes I choose to wear, to the words that come out of my mouth, to the actions I take in everyday life. But I missed it in regards to studying the word altogether.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but it wasn't until this year, as I sat and listened to David Platt teach at Secret Church, that it really hit me for the first time. The overall theme of his 6 hours of teaching was how the death of Jesus on the cross affects our everyday lives. One particular section was titled "Living Every Day to Love God With All Your Mind and Strength." The focus was on reading scripture.
He said something like, "You'll never fall in love with anyone by proxy. You need to read the bible personally, for yourself, with the desire for intimacy with God" (emphasis mine). I looked down at my study guide and right there, slapping me in the face were the words, "You will fall in love with the Author of the Book." And it was then that I realized, I should be reading the bible to fall more in love with Jesus. My desire and purpose in reading scripture should be to learn more about who He is, what He did and to know intimately Him and His story.
So I went home and I put it to the test. I started reading verse by verse through Colossians, journaling through each and every verse. Reading it in the ESV, the NIV and the Amplified Version (my favorite for studying!!). I memorized verses, wrote them in my own words, summarized them in my journal, prayed through them and I sought out Jesus in every.single.word.
And you know what happened? The more I read, the more I learned, the more I fell in love with Jesus and who He is and what He's done for me. My heart and my mind began to be changed simply by getting to know Him. Because when I know Him, I get to know who I am in Him. And I let Him in more and more to do the work in me that needs to be done.
Reading the word with the perspective of "what does this mean for me?" becomes empty really fast. I can personally testify to that. But when I set that perspective aside and understand that the story isn't about me, the impact is profound. It's when I simply enjoy, love and delight in the Lord, knowing Him personally and intimately that He will be most glorified in me. John Piper said, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." The best way to be satisfied in Him is to know Him. The best way to know Him is to read His very word with the intent on getting to know Him better. It will change everything about your relationship with Him and in the end it will change you too.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3