One of the hallmarks of healthy Christians throughout the centuries has been their deep love for God’s Word. From the very beginning of the New Testament church (Acts 2:42), the Bible has played a central role in the life of God’s people. Christians have been known historically as a people “of the book.” We cannot overstate how vital God’s Word is to the health of God’s people.
With the rise of the internet, there’s been a trend that, if continued, will sap the church’s spiritual vibrancy. Sadly, more and more Christians are replacing personal time in the Bible with time spent reading books, blogs, devotionals, and/or articles written by gifted teachers about the Bible.
A Brief Clarification
Now let me be clear. I am NOT talking about supplementing Bible reading with other books. There are many books written by gifted teachers that can greatly help us understand truths that we might not fully grasp on our own. My life has been profoundly shaped by the books, blogs, and articles I’ve read through the years. These writings, however, were never meant to replace the privilege and joy of reading, studying, and interacting with God’s Word on a daily basis.
Why Christians Replace Bible Reading with Other Books
They’re overwhelmed by the Bible
Some Christians see the Bible as an intimidating book. The prospect of actually reading or understanding it seems daunting. They’re not sure where to begin or what they should do. Perhaps they’ve tried reading the Bible before, but got discouraged because they didn’t understand what they were reading. Maybe they stopped because they got bogged down in one of those lengthy genealogy sections. Whether they are overwhelmed, discouraged, or simply unsure, many Christians decide it would be better to read other materials that might be more “accessible” instead of taking up the discipline of daily Bible intake.
They’re bored with the Bible
For some, familiarity with the Scriptures has resulted in apathy or indifference. They know the stories. The Bible isn’t really fresh or exciting anymore. As a result, they turn to the writings of others for deeper insight or devotional warmth.
Some have lost their appetite for thoughtful reading all together. We’re incessantly moving from one bite-size, shiny bit of information to the next. Daily, we’re bombarded with eye-catching posts, tweets, and click-bait headlines. We have Netflix. Youtube. Prime. Disney Plus. With an unending supply of entertainment options, who actually has the patience to sit down and read a book?
One writer notes, “Many people do not find themselves awed by the Bible. They avoid the Bible because it has been a long time (if ever) since they have found themselves truly moved by its truth. This reveals more of a problem with the person than with the Bible. The Bible is not boring; we are boring. Many of us are too infatuated with the trivial to even appreciate something of substance. We jump from one mindless triviality to another day after day and wonder why we have no appetite for the Word of God.”
They don’t have a God-exalting approach to / mindset about Bible reading
In reality, this third point is the root cause of the previous two. Many Christians see the Bible essentially as a divine “how to” manual. You may have heard the Bible being referred to as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Christians with this outlook come to the Bible searching for something “practical.” They’re looking for that breakthrough truth they can immediately apply. After a while, many who have this mindset feel like they can “get more” through books that explain the Scriptures. This in turn causes them to neglect the privilege of personally encountering the glory of God as revealed in the Bible.
Meeting with God through His Word
The Bible, however, is not a “how to” manual. It’s a book about a Person named Jesus (Lk.24:27). Jared C. Wilson says, “Everything the Bible teaches, whether theological or practical, and everywhere it teaches, whether historical or poetical or applicational or prophetic, is meant to draw us closer to Christ, seeing him with more clarity and loving him with more of our affections. The Bible is about Jesus.” God has revealed His truth in His Word so that we would grow in an ever-deepening love relationship with Him through Christ. As John Piper notes, “When we seek to enjoy communion with the Lord, we read the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s words and God’s deeds reveal God himself for our knowledge and our enjoyment.”
The Bible is unlike any other book. It is God’s living, powerful, authoritative revelation of Himself in Christ (Heb.4:12). God’s desire in giving us His Word is that we would clearly see and then rejoice in His glory revealed in each page of the Scriptures (2 Cor.3:18)! Only through the Word can we truly experience this ever-increasing awe, joy, and delight in God that magnifies His glory.
Whether you’re a new believer or seasoned saint, don’t fall prey to the danger of replacing the Scriptures with other books. Let your love for God’s Word be rekindled as you come to the Word afresh to see, meditate, and delight in God’s glory. Don’t read the Bible merely to acquire knowledge or be challenged. Come to meet with God. Humbly and prayerfully open the book and read the text so that you can know God truly and delight in Him whole-heartedly. Like the Psalmist, pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps.119:18).