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Help! I don’t enjoy reading the Bible

12.04.12 Topics: Bible Translation & Interpretation, The Bible

In order to begin reading the Bible and enjoying the experience, it may be helpful to ask the question, “Why aren’t people reading the Bible”? Especially when if those non Bible readers are Jesus followers. This isn’t a question of guilt but a question to seriously consider so that we can learn to enjoy God’s word for what it is intended to represent in our lives. God’s word is God’s way of revealing Himself and His plan for our lives.

Why People DON’T Read the Bible:

According to Barna Research, the top four reasons people don’t read the Bible are:

  • Lack of time.
  • The language is difficult.
  • They don’t get excited to read it.
  • They don’t understand the background or history.

If you feel like you relate to one or all of these points the good news is , these are solvable problems! Truthfully at some point in our lives we can relate to every one of these points. Therefore I would encourage you to read each point below.

What can fuel our passion for reading the Bible?

The following four responses are in direct response to the Barna Research on reasons why we don’t read the Bible.

How to go from, “Lack of time” to “Finding Time”. We are all crazy busy, or atleast we say we feel crazy busy. Then all of a sudden you find something or someone you love. A new passion in your life. Without thought you find some time to squeeze in for the something or someone you love.The truth is we make time for what we truly love. The sobbering reality is that if we really loved the Bible,and looked at it as more of a pleasure than a task, we would find time for it. In honesty many of us read the Bible out of guilt rather than enjoyment. We may not say it but we can think it; “I have to read God’s Word because God says so.” When you complete a daily reading choir, you aren’t looking forward to reading it again. Instead, we are thankful that we knocked off a few chapters from our year long goal of reading the Bible in a year. Once that is done you can look God in the eye and atleast say I read it once. I know this point leaves us with more questions than answers, so lets just leave this point with a question: How can you really love and appreciate God’s word? That is what we are after. We don’t want to tolerate the Bible, we want to fall in love with it. The next points will answer that question.

How to go from, “the Language is difficult” to “the Language is enjoyable.” If you didn’t speak Spanish and I were to drop you off in the middle of Mexico, you might describe the experience as challenging. Why? Well the answer is easy…”You couldn’t enjoy all of the experience because you couldn’t understand or verbally communicate.” Especially when you had to use the bathroom. Sure some of us enjoy “new cultural experiences” , but we all know the more we can understand and be understood, the more enjoyable our experiences become. The lack of communication could have been prevented if you were in an area where you could communicate clearly. The same is true with the Bible. The harder it is to understand the less you appreciate it. Yes, the Bible has been translated into English, but sometimes the English is arcaic or in a rigid translation. Fortunately for us, translators have translated the Bible over centuries and in various degrees. What I mean is some translations are word for word or literal in order to help us see the original language in the original context. However, this makes it difficult to read because it doesn’t always translate easily into English. When you consider how English changes over time, the date of the translating is also important. Have you ever read Shakespear and thought “He talks funny”, or atleast the way he phrases his words make it hard? Well the King James Version was written during that time period, in a way we no longer speak today. It is almost foreign. Other translations are dynamic or paraphrased so that you can get the concept of a Jewish Old testament saying in a modern english setting. Translators do the throught work from an ancient Hebrew way of thinking to a modern English way of thinking for you. Both types of translations are important, but if you are having trouble reading the Bible perhaps the best place to start is with a dynamic or paraphrase translation. The most popular today are the New International Version, the New Living Translation or the Message. Having an easier read can make Gods word enjoyable. Don’t forget you can also get the Bible on Audio. Please read the next two points.

How to Go from, “They don’t get excited” to “the Bible is exciting to read.” Do you know how movie produces and tv show producers get you excited about their next show? They give you a teaser. If you are watching a sitcom, producers will often show a preview of next weeks show at the end of their current show and throughout the week. The same is true for a major motion picture before it hits the box office. They want you to know what it is about. Why do they do this? They know it gets you interested. If it peeks your interest it will likely get your viewing eye. The same is true with the Bible. If you have a teaser about a book it will peek your interest. The key is to let your mind have a teaser. Before you begin reading a book, prepare your mind for the book by reading a little bit about its purpose. Just as a movie is made for a purpose, God had a purpose for writing each of His 66 books. Find the Purpose and give your mind a teaser to get excited. To do this, go buy a Bible that gives a little introduction and background to each book, and take a few minutes to read it.

How to go from, “They don’t understand the background or history” to “I see the full picture.” If someone were to offer you a free movie ticket to a popular movie, but tell you “you can only watch the middle of the movie”, you would likely reject the offer. You and I both know the beginning and the end of a movie, set up and complete a a movie’s storyline. The beginning and end contain the most important parts. The introduction of the movie is where the problem takes place. This is the premise for the film. The climax and resolution of the movie happens at the end. If we were to simply view the middle of the movie it would be like stepping into a story only to spend the entire time confused and wandering what the movie is all about. Do you realize we do this with the Bible all the time. We pick it up, and read a verse. If we are fortunate, we read a book, but we walk away confused because we don’t have any point of reference. We read with no beginning and no end. We just pick up a book written in a specific place, at a specific time, for a specific group, but we never understand why. The likelyhood of you picking up any best seller book, only reading the middle of it, and enjoying it is extremely low. As people we naturally follow storylines that have a conflict, climax and a resolution. Said another way, If you don’t see why you need it you won’t want it. Here is the great reality: The more you understand the historical background to a book and what it achieved, the greater you will appreciate its content. Not only should you take time to undertand what a book is about, it is also good to understand the reason it was written. Meaning, look at the history surrounding the book. It is what led to the writting of the Bible books in the first place. God led people to write the Bible out of conflict, the wrote in a specific time period for a specific purpose so people could resolve their conflict and enjoy him. Seeing that bigger picture gives purpose to the book you are about to read rather than jumping into the middle of a confusing story. You can do this by, again, purchasing a Bible that gives historical background and information to each book before you read it.

God’s word is powerful, and the more you can appreciate it the more you will read it. I hope this helps in your journey with the Lord. I hope you learn to love God’s Word because the more you love it the more you will find time for it. Now that I have spent all of this time writing about how to read the Bible, I am going to go read it myself.