Being lazy about Bible-reading

This is a sloth, the world's most famously lazy animal.

I’m afraid I’m becoming merely a professional Bible reader.

What do I mean by that? I mean that I’ve gotten into the terrible habit of reading the Bible mostly as part of the work that I do: to prepare sermons and Bible studies and cross-reference verses here and there.

Now don’t get me wrong: That is still a lot of Bible reading—and it is often reading in some depth. But it isn’t enough. I need to get back to the kind of reading that nourishes my soul.

After all, I say—along with most of the Church—that the Bible is the Word of God not simply because at some point in the distant past the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible to write certain things down (although I believe that), but also because reading and studying the Bible is a means of grace. In other words, through the Spirit, God himself (or herself, if you please) meets us through the reading of the text. To read the Bible is to have an encounter with the living God.

If I really believe that, how can I be content to leave so much of the Bible so often unexplored? As I suggested in the post before last, there are some parts of the Bible I simply don’t read often (even if I’ve read them in the past for seminary or Disciple class) or perhaps haven’t read at all. (I’m looking at you, 1 and 2 Chronicles.) Now, shame on the Candler School of Theology for allowing me to pass Old Testament without demonstrating even a passing knowledge of 1 and 2 Chronicles beyond saying, “It’s just an inferior re-write of Samuel and Kings.” But shame on me for being satisfied for so long with not reading it.

And now that I am reading 1 Chronicles, can I just say that its genealogies are brutal?

Still, I am a work in progress, and I sense that God is convicting me to get to work. To that end, I’m now in the process of reading some of my least favorite or most neglected parts of scripture: Deuteronomy, 1 and 2 Chronicles, and Proverbs. I’ll tackle Leviticus, some of the prophets, and Revelation next.

Do any of you have experience with those “read the Bible in a year” calendars or Bibles? Did you complete it? What was that experience like? My fear with going that route is that reading the Bible would just become checking stuff off a list each day, rather than taking time to listen for God’s voice. Know what I mean? I’m sure it’s better than nothing, but I’m looking for something deeper.

2 thoughts on “Being lazy about Bible-reading”

  1. I know what you mean. The big thing I think about the Bible is that it’s a living word, a call that demands a response, and it lives and breathes. I’ve done a dozen read-the-bible-in-this-amt-of-time plans over the course of my evangelical career. I really don’t know if they’re good or not, you can turn anything into checking off a list, but the smallest earnest intention is also beautiful…hmm.

    1. Good point… Anything can become checking off a list. I have a friend in ministry who shamed me recently with his “read the Bible in a year” Bible. I’m guessing the Bible is actually organized and broken up in such a way that it facilitates day-by-day reading. I didn’t look through it, but it was badly dog-eared and worse for wear. I thought, “Here’s a guy who reads his Bible!” He’s obviously read through it multiple times.

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