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Why We Don’t Read the Bible

As believers, one of our greatest dangers is that we can treat the Bible as if it were ordinary. Our passion for the word of God can be depleted over time. Why is it that though we revere the word of God, we no longer read and feed upon it as we once did? Let me suggest reasons why, for some of us, the Scriptures have become less fascinating than they used to be—why the Bible has become a book on our shelf rather than one in our hearts.

For some of us, the Scriptures are too familiar. If you grew up in Sunday School and heard the stories of the Old and New Testaments again and again, you might come to think the Bible is a book that has nothing left to say.

For others, the Bible is too unfamiliar. The reason the Bible stays on the shelf is that it seems to be made up of different and difficult sorts of things. The ancient kingdoms, the middle-eastern nomads and farmers, the Jewish religious sensibilities that make up so much of the Bible are too foreign to this time and place. Yet that’s not true either, of course. The Bible is about our hearts. It’s about the God who loves us and orchestrates events to our benefit. It’s about sacrifice and community and other things that never change. Though the settings are not familiar to us, the realities they describe are always familiar, because God doesn’t change and human beings don’t change.

Some will say that the Bible is too distant. We can treat the Bible as a revered, sacred text, but not as something that is relevant in our day and age. It’s wonderful, but it’s not helpful.

The final, and probably most important, reason that the Bible stays on our shelves, is that it’s too powerful. If we hear it, if we approach God in His word, He will tell us things that are so important we have to respond to them. We have to believe and obey what we read. The God who breathed the Scriptures and who makes Himself known in them has plans for us, gifts to give. The more truth there is in our life, the less we’re in control. So it’s easy to avoid the Scriptures. They are powerful and intrude relentlessly into what is otherwise predictable and under our control.

Whatever the reason, it’s too often true of me that I own more Bibles than I read. If you’re like me, I want to persuade you that the word of God should become a living book for us again. God’s clear word makes sense of life. It should become our passion. We should sing God’s praises every day and thank Him every night for such a gift, and we should drink deeply of the truth of the word of God.

—Steve Zeisler, condensed