This year, I am reading through the Bible. All of it. You might think that's quite a lofty goal, but the truth is that last year, I read through the Bible. All of it. And the year before that. And the year before that. And the year before that. In fact, I have read through the Bible, in its entirety, for the past six or seven years, once each year.
To many, that probably sounds boring. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard, "I read through the Bible once already. Why would I do it again?" And then the person moves on to read through something else or picks up a devotional or spot-reads as the mood strikes him or her.
After all, how many times can you watch a movie you've already seen? Especially a long, sometimes boring, movie with a lot of what seems like unnecessary information? There's too much going on, too many distractions, too much in the Scriptures that simply isn't "relevant" for life today.
Yes, many conclude, it's much better to read the Bible once, to say that you've done it, and then focus on the important parts or the parts that are most pertinent to whatever you're doing.
There's so much false in that that it's almost impossible to know where to begin to refute it.
First, let's be clear: the entire Bible is relevant. It's relevant today. It's relevant tomorrow. It's relevant for Jesus-lovers and for Jews. It's relevant for anyone and everyone who wants to live a life of faith and do something sacred and holy in this world. There is not a single Scripture that is not useful for teaching, rebuking, loving, leading. So let's stop pretending that some parts of the Bible are less meaningful than others or that they have less to do with anything than others.
Second, yes. Some of the Bible is more boring than other parts of the Bible. Some of it is a drudgery to read through sometimes. The genealogies, for example, can be grueling. But if you don't read through every name, you can't put the pieces together when peoples run into each other. And you miss some of the best little snippets of faith when you skip the lists of names. The tale of Nimrod is tucked away in a genealogy, and so is the prayer of Jabez. In the New Testament, it is the genealogy of Jesus that is the first testimony to His holy identity.
Or what about the Old Testament law? Boring, right? Wrong. Most Christians are content to skip right by it because we're no longer bound by the law, but unless you understand the law, you can't understand what Jesus teaches about it. You can't understand what He means when He says He came to fulfill the law unless you know the law first.
And the sacrifices? What could Jesus on the Cross possibly mean to you if you don't have a framework of sacrifice in which to place it? You can't understand why He is called the Lamb - and not the Ram or the Male Goat - unless you've read through the sacrifices and understand what they all mean. Or, as I've written about before, how His sacrifice on the Cross most closely mimics the sacrifice of the pigeon or the dove, the poor man's sacrifice. You miss that stuff when you don't read the law.
But here's the most important thing, I think, and the truth that we have to know about reading the Bible: every time we read the Bible, we find something new in it. It's true. The story doesn't change; what's written is written. But the lens through which we read it changes as our lives and seasons change.
I've read the Bible through every year for several years, and every year, I've taken new notes, had new insights, learned new things, and grown deeper. Because every time I read those words, they're fresh and new and something different is happening in me.
Starting tomorrow, I'm going to take you through the Bible with me this year. Most days, I'll be sharing with you something that I've picked up from reading the Scriptures this year - Genesis to Revelation. Sometimes, I may break to do a topical series or I may take a few extra days to develop a point, but it's going to be right here - the Bible. In ways that maybe you've never read it. Things maybe you've never seen. But that I hope will give you plenty to think about and encourage you to pick up the Bible yourself and see what you can't uncover.
There's life in these words. And it's beautiful.