Getting the Most of Your Bible
One thing we have no shortage of in our neighborhood is squirrels. I see them almost every day that I go outside (with the exception of hibernation time). They are cute creatures that do some rather funny things. One morning, when I returning from an errand, I noticed a squirrel on the left-hand side of the road. Since I have a lengthy experience with these little guys, I knew exactly what he was going to do.
They do it every time. They watch me driving up the road. And, just before I pass them by, they dart across the road in front of me from one side to the other. I’ve learned to drive slowly through our streets and even slower if I see a squirrel in a yard.
Well, this happened one morning and something peculiar occurred. I cautiously drove forward in order to pass this little squirrel who was seemingly distracted with his food. And suddenly, he sees me and darts across just like I expected. But then he stops just in front of my car. He looks like he is complete distress. His head is turning back and forth as if he is assessing which way he should run. “Should I continue and cross the street or should I go back to where I came from?” This is what I imagined him to be saying. This way. That way. This way. That way.
I could tell that this was too much for him because he retreated right back to the side he came from. He never made it across. In my rear view, I noticed him to have gone back to his food like nothing happened.
Most Christians are like this squirrel. We wait to the last moment to run to the Bible in hopes to find comfort and direction. Then we get confused and fearful. We frantically look here and there and find no resolve. So we bail out and return to things as they were.
In May 2007 and 2008, LifeWay Research conducted a survey of twenty-five hundred Protestants who were regular church attenders. It reported that only seven percent professed to have daily Bible study. Only sixteen percent said that they read the Bible each day.1
I would venture to say that these are surprising numbers – though not because they are so low. In my world of experience, I would assume the number to be much lower. Nevertheless, when you consider the importance of the Bible in the believer’s life, even these numbers are horribly low.
Ever wondered why? I have. In fact, I’ve spent some time now meeting with people and researching to find out why the squirrel syndrome is wide-spread. What I discovered was more interesting than it was surprising. I attribute this problem to the enemy of our soul – the devil. And, as I know the devil to be, it is quite cunning. Evil, but cunning.
Most people today have cultivated the idea that the Bible is unlike any literature known to man – except that which is hocus-pocus. So they open it up with the wrong idea to begin with. Then, when a text is read, it more than often makes no sense. The reader then jumps from page to page to get some sense of things, but fails and quits because it is all nonsensical.
Most of us do this in marriage. (Sorry this was the only practical example that comes to mind.) When dating, we are head over heels in love with our good friend. It is as if we are living in a fantasy world. Birds are singing and flying around us. Everything we touch and do prospers. Nothing he says offends us. Nothing she wears is poor choice. We are both young and have no responsibilities. We live in a fairy-tale. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. Yet we have never come to realistic conclusions by the time we’ve said, “I do.” Over the first two or three years, our fantasia begins to rot and die and fall apart. Suddenly, we want divorce. We want to bail out. We want to go back to the way things were. This is because we have the wrong idea to begin with.
If you think that marriage is like those good movies with happy endings where no one has a real job and all of the bills are paid with unlimited blow-off money, then you have unrealistic expectations. You have been trained to think incorrectly about marriage before you have even tied the knot. So it makes total sense that you would crash and burn when your reality falls.
This is cunning. This is deception at its best. If Satan cannot stop the printing presses from replicating God’s word and sending it off to the masses, then he will accomplish his desires by preprogramming people with the wrong set of ideas about the nature of the Bible.
This should not be a surprise to us if we know our history. We make reference to Martin Luther for his great service of clarifying the gospel, but we tend to forget that he also was responsible for putting the Bible into the hands of common people. In the 1400’s, the Bible was primarily available in Latin and only the educated priests could read it. The church goers could not read nor understand it. In fact, it was purposely withheld from the congregation by the church authorities. This was another moment in our history where the devil has tried to separate people from the Word of God.
Today, with the Bible being so easily available in so many parts of the world, this tactic is no longer useful. Satan’s schemes have changed. He no longer stops the production of the Bible, he stops the reading of it. How does he do it? He has us trained with misconceptions of what the Bible is and therefore we don’t read it like it is suppose to be read and we end up frustrated, confused. So we quit and return to things as they were.
- Waggoner, Brad J. The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and the Future of Discipleship. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2008. p.69.