Many struggle to find the Bible meaningful, especially in today’s rushed society. Some of us resolve in January to read the Bible through in a year. Come March, the bookmark hasn’t moved and we’re trying to ‘give ourselves grace’ and search for something that sticks. I’m in seminary, and I’ve been there. I wasn’t able to find an article that presented a workable plan, so below, find four tips that worked for me.
Read for depth, not length.
In my imagination, reading through the Bible in a year is very rewarding. I have never done it. Devouring that much text in that amount of time has yet to sound rewarding to my spiritual life. I’m a mile deep kinda girl. Spending time understanding passages completely transformed my life. If you need permission to do the same, here’s your ticket. Read for depth.
Die on the hill of understanding.
“That’s the hill you want to die on?” My boss asked if my current petition for dark chocolate over milk chocolate in the teachers’ lounge really mattered. My answer? Yes. I dish out dark chocolate like Oprah gives cars.
When reading the Bible, understanding is the hill you want to die on. Get a study Bible. Read the introduction to the books. Research the time in which they were written. Investigating the culture is a worthwhile endeavor when reading the texts of Scripture. Enrich your study by learning what a day in the life of Paul, Deborah, Mary Magdalene, Moses, and Eve felt like. Be stubborn in understanding what the original author meant in the original context before considering what the passage means for us today. Understanding is the hill you want to die on.
Put yourself in the pages.
Read the text like a movie script. When the men and women move from one place to another, picture them walking. What are they seeing? Smelling? Feeling? Was the weather harsh or comfortable? The more detail the better.
In Mark, the bleeding woman approached Jesus. I read that passage hundreds of times before I realized that she wasn’t supposed to be there! Putting myself next to her, elbowed by her, I realized her unclean state made everyone else unclean. Everyone had to quarantine because of her, yet her desperation drove her to Jesus.
Another hundred reads helped me see that she approached Jesus from behind; she didn’t want to bother him. I now empathize with her, and Jesus stopping became the thing in that season of my life.
Reading the same passage from different points of view, even aloud, will greatly enhance your understanding of the cultural nuances, bringing the Bible to life like never before.
What’s the Bible about?
Remember, as Jen Wilkin says, the Bible is primarily a book about God, not about [insert your name here]. Read first about God, second about you. Scripture is designed to teach, transform, and instruct us. Go first to learn about God, and let the Holy Spirit illuminate what pertains to you.
About The Author
Rachel is a full-time student at Dallas Theological Seminary pursuing her Master’s Degree in Christian Education. Rachel is a recovering high school math teacher, curriculum writer, and principal who is passionate about thought-provoking curriculum, specifically within the church. Rachel lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband, Justin, and their three children.