3/27/17 Miguel early 20's
"The Bible isn't a book, it's a library" I told a young man named Miguel, early 20's, in an outreach conversation on my way to church. "And in a library, there are a variety of books, all written in different ways and for different reasons". Miguel had made a statement I hear often - he had told me, "I started reading the Bible, but I didn't get very far". He had tried to read the Bible like a novel, starting at the beginning, but it quickly became confusing. I explained "There are some books in the Bible that are intended for beginners and are easier to understand, and they aren't necessarily in the beginning."
We wouldn't walk in a library and read the books in alphabetical order, and neither do we have to read the Bible that way. Of course, Genesis and Exodus at the beginning are important, and the Bible as a whole does have a logical sequence to it, but most beginners get lost or bored by Levitcus, and they miss the Gospels completely. "The main point of Christianity is Christ, and the main focus of the Bible is Jesus, whether in preparation as the coming Messiah in the Old Testament, in His life and teachings while here with us in the Gospels, in the actions of his followers in the Epistles, or His second coming in Revelations. So start with the Gospels, they are meant for beginners, and move on from there".
What about the parts a beginner doesn't understand? "There are plenty of parts that are easy to understand. Read and obey them, and the difficult parts will be easier also. And it's good to get under the teaching of experienced Bible preaching in a local church. That’s God's provision for our instruction and growth as Christians."
And we shouldn't try to read it all at once. "You wouldn't want to eat a week's worth of food all in one meal, and the Bible is meant to be our spiritual food, something we partake of every day. It needs to be a daily habit, something we set aside time for every day and take in a little at a time."
The Bible can be intimidating to those who haven't grown up with it or don't know where to begin. When Paul tells Timothy to "Preach the word, in and out of season" he says to do this "with great patience and careful instruction." And I believe some of that careful instruction just means giving out practical advice on things as simple as getting started to read the Bible.