Last year, I processed some registration forms of folks attending a week-long Bible conference where I work. The forms had a box for “Special Requests” where one participant wrote: “No nuts, please.” The first thought that jumped into my noggin was: how can we guarantee no kooks will attend the conference? Of course, I then realized the participant meant no nuts in her meals. Ah, that’s much easier to accommodate.
Remembering that Bible conference registration form got me thinking about Bible reading. I’m at that stage of life where I just ordered a LARGE PRINT Bible. Still, I enjoy reading my Bible because it contains thousands of years of wisdom about life, and there’s always something new to discover in its ancient text. Coincidentally, today I read an article by the Barna Group about their research on the last twenty years of religious changes. I was pleased to read that among Baby Busters (you’d think they could come up with a less violent name for this generation), weekly Bible reading jumped by nine percentage points. That’s encouraging, but I have a question: how do Busters approach their Bible reading?
After decades among the faithful, I see a trend: many people tend to bring their biases with them when reading the Bible. For instance, conservative Christians read the Bible and latch onto those portions that stress personal responsibility, industry and hard work. Liberal Christians read the Bible and embrace the portions that decry greed and stress the moral imperative to serve the poor. But from my perspective, the Bible enhances our life most when we choose to let it work however it will. In other words, we get the most life-altering and reality-bending personal enlightenment when we read the Bible with a malleable heart. I am not suggesting it’s wrong to have strong convictions about issues. I am suggesting that constant stubbornness can turn the Holy Spirit away from touching a person’s life and opening their eyes to God’s perspective.
We humans have an uncanny ability to look at truth and deny it, or ignore it. Therefore, how we read the Bible is as important as how often. So, the next time you sit down to read the Bible, say a little prayer and give the Holy Spirit permission to show you what you need to see. But above all, be sincere!