I’m not gonna lie; I didn’t always read the Bible much (or at all). I became a Baptist at the tender age of 35 and would read the Bible on occasion. Or maybe I’d start one of those ‘Read the Bible Through in a Year’ programs that kick off on New Year’s Day. I made it up to 1 Kings. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get much out of the meager amount of time and effort I spent with God’s Word. As shocking as it is to say, I just didn’t understand the utility of it.
I bring this up because this morning in my WordPress feed I read a post about Christianity and (or versus) Feminism. The post drew on a number of different sources and provided thoughts on what Feminism is or isn’t and, of more interest, on what Christianity is or isn’t. This post was an illustration of one reason reading the Bible is important—and useful. We know the way is hard and the gate is narrow. We know there are few that find their way through. What is the effect of this? The effect is that there are a number of professing Christians running around “lost as a goose,” as the preachers use to say. How can we are we to identify these people or groups that misrepresent biblical teachings, either intentionally or through ignorance? The answer is that unless we read and understand the Bible, we can’t. The Bible is the measure by which we determine whether a particular teaching is sound. The Bible tells us that we are “sheep among wolves” and exhorts us to be “as wise as vipers” in response (Matthew 10:16). To recognize the wolves, we must have the wisdom that comes from knowledge of God’s Word.
So, how did I come to be a person that reads the Bible? Oddly (or perhaps not), it happened almost without me knowing it. As I have mentioned, I experienced a major step forward in my faith when I was 50. At the time, I was experiencing some pretty serious trials at work. I turned to God’s Word for answers and found that the more I read, the more I wanted to read.
Now, keep in mind that research is second nature to me. I never met a footnote I didn’t like. At work, I joked that I was paid by the pound of paper documents I produced. Although it may seem perfectly obvious, it took me fifteen years to understand that my primary spiritual gift is the pursuit of knowledge. I believe it is this spiritual gift, received (but insufficiently used) when I first became a Christian, that ultimately led me to desire to read the Bible. While the means by which each individual is drawn to the Word may vary according to gifts or circumstances, of one thing I am certain—knowledge of the Bible is a Christian’s protection during our earthly journey.