Many people avoid personal Bible study, declaring themselves not “smart” enough to understand the Bible. This attitude shuts people out of God’s revelation of himself to all people through Scripture. Jesus Christ our Savior is God’s living Word to us, and the Bible is God’s written word to us. God inspired people to write the many different books, letters, and poems that make up the Bible, and his purpose was to give people something they could read for themselves in order to know his will and his way. The Bible is our guide for faith and life, and the Bible is for everybody.
Too many people talk themselves out of reading the Bible, because they hear scholars and preachers speak eloquently of the teachings therein, and these people fear they simply will not understand it. If you feel that way, take heart. God wrote the Bible for everyone.
Think about a familiar Bible story, one that is often told to children: the story of Jonah.
Children identify with this story because Jonah acts like a three-year-old. God tells him to do something he doesn’t want to do, so he pouts and runs away. Like a loving parent, God captures the runaway, gives him a timeout, and then gives him a second chance to obey.
Any child can learn from this story that God is patient and loving, even when we are disobedient.
There is a lot more to the story, but a child can absorb the child’s portion of the story. The beauty of this and many other Bible stories is that there is so much more, and it is accessible to people of all ages. The person who read and learned from this story at age 5 will find more to learn at age 9, and age 17, and age 45.
The story reminds us that people have not changed much in the thousands of years since Jonah lived. For adults confronting a culture that talks about evolving morality and the steady improvement of humans, that lesson about the persistence of sinful human nature is valuable.
The story reminds us that when we undertake to obey God, our failures do not result in the failure of God’s purposes. Jonah did eventually go to Nineveh, but the story says he only barely got inside the city before he proclaimed his message and then went off to see what happened. God wanted him to tell all the Ninevites, not just the ones he passed the first day he arrived. Yet God was there in the words Jonah spoke grudgingly, and God used those words to prick the hearts of person after person, all the way up to the king. The best Jonah could manage was a half-hearted, half-done job, but God used it anyway and achieved his purpose for Nineveh.
You don’t need a high IQ to notice these things in this story. You don’t need a degree in theology or rocket science or ancient languages. You need to do one thing: read the story.
As I mentioned in the first post of this series, many people don’t read the story, because they claim they do not have time. I recommended that you consider whether it might be good stewardship of God’s gift of time to set aside just five minutes in each 24 hours for prayer and Bible study. That is how you get the time. Lack of time is no reason to fail to read the Bible.
In this post, I have showed you that you can use your own common sense to read the Bible and learn from it. You have the intelligence to understand the simple words of Jonah’s story and learn from it. The Bible is full of stories you will understand readily if you simply read them. Lack of Bible training is no reason to fail to read the Bible.
In posts yet to come, I will help you get past some of the other ways you may be justifying to yourself your failure to read the Bible. You know that you need God’s help every day. You experience frustration, fear and anger as you are jolted by the daily chaos. You know that the Bible is God’s gift to guide us in faith and life. There is only one way to get past your failure to read the Bible. Just do it.
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image: Open Bible
Attribution: By Wnorbutas (Own work)
License:CC BY-SA 3.0