Do you want to become more familiar with Scripture but don’t know where to begin? You’ve come to the right place! Our new column, Bible in 5, will explore a variety of biblical topics in simple lists of five. The entire column only takes about five minutes to read. So five solid ideas in five minutes, all geared toward helping you understand and enjoy Scripture a little bit more. Sound like a plan? Let’s get started with our first topic: “Five good reasons to read the Bible.”
1. Get to know God. The Bible is not really a book; it’s a library. Its 73 books were composed over the course of many centuries by a variety of authors with different backgrounds, personalities, and purposes. Each book explores who God is from a slightly different point of view. As readers of Scripture, we discover new truths about God at every turn. Some of these truths will resonate with us more than others, and some will strike us more profoundly at various times during our lives.
The variety in Scripture serves us well as we come to know our God, who is both eternally simple and utterly complex. Here in his word, God speaks through human beings, telling us what he most wants us to know about himself. Just as in our human relationships we spend time with others to get to know them better, in Scripture we are given the opportunity to spend time with God and, in doing so, become his friend.
2. Get to know yourself. St. Gregory the Great wrote that Scripture “is set before the eyes of the mind like a mirror, that we may see our inward person in it; for therein we learn the deformities; therein we learn the beauties that we possess.”
The more time we spend with the Bible, the more we will discover ourselves within its pages. We will recognize ourselves as made in God’s image; we will see our own impatience in the rebellions of God’s people; we will experience the emotions of the psalms; we will stand by while Christ is crucified; and we will rejoice to find him risen. We must never make the mistake of thinking that the Bible is simply a book about God. It is more accurately a book about God and human beings.
3. Improve your relationships. Because the Bible reveals both God and humanity, it is a precious tool in our lives as we navigate relationships both human and divine. Relationships are the foundation of human life. They give life purpose, they bring us meaning, and they have the potential to remain anchors for us in a world that is constantly changing. The wisdom of the Scriptures can guide us as we learn to sacrifice, forgive, and love one another. (You can find a wonderful example in Colossians 3:12–14.)
4. Be comforted. As the centuries pass and the words of Scripture become ever more ancient, the comfort they bring to believers never changes. Whether it is the proclamation of the psalmist that God is near (see Psalm 139) or the promise of Christ that even every hair on our heads has been counted (see Luke 12:7), the words of Scripture proclaim to us a God who will never leave us nor forsake us (see Deuteronomy 31:6), hides us faithfully in the shadow of his wings (see Psalm 17:8), and will finally wipe every tear from our eyes and declare an end to death, depression, disease, and all the things that plague us (see Revelation 21:4).
5. Be challenged. If we don’t feel challenged in our lives, one possible solution might be to read more Scripture! In both his word and our consciences, God prods us forward. He asks more of us than we thought possible. He loves us just as we are, but at the same time, he challenges us to be more.
If we aren’t feeling that push, that challenge, on a regular basis, we can open our Bibles and sincerely ask God to speak to our hearts. Try reading the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5—7) from start to finish; there is certainly something here to challenge every reader!
Fortunately, the challenge of Scripture goes hand in hand with all of its benefits, including knowing God better, knowing ourselves better, improving our relationships, and being comforted by God’s word. Let’s open our Bibles and read. We can do this!