A few Sundays ago, Tim Henderson invited us on the amazing journey of daily and regularly reading the Bible. You can go here to listen to the sermon from 4/19/2020. In this sermon, Tim used the powerful words of “Raw Bible.” Now that may not be a wording choice you have heard of much, but it is a great phrase. Why is it a great phrase you may ask?
Tim named it “Raw Bible” reading because he invited us into this great journey of just reading the Bible. We have grown up reading bible studies, although those are great. We have been eating off of others Bible readings by reading Bible devotionals, or Bible journals or online/DVD Bible teaching. All of those are important, but they are not Raw Bible reading.
What Tim is inviting you and I into is what God’s people have been doing for more than 3000 years – just reading God’s Holy Word for itself. God is inviting us to read the Bible as it is. Of course, there are passages, stories, events that are hard to understand. Of course, there are names, places, timelines, situations that seem weird, strange or even crazy. But, that does not to stop us from just reading the Bible raw. That does not need to stop us from reading the Bible regularly, asking God the Holy Spirit for help, direction, understanding and personal growth.
For example, we can say all day that we know soccer. We can dress like a soccer player, we can talk like a soccer player, we can even sleep with a soccer ball. But if we never actually play soccer, we will never really know what soccer is like. The most important thing is to play.
Tim’s invitation is for us as disciples of Jesus Christ to stop talking about the Bible, to stop reading about the Bible, to pause watching others dive into the Bible and instead for us to actually dive into it ourselves. In a disciple’s life, reading the Bible Raw means sitting down regularly and just reading, praying and interacting with the Bible. Then, watch your spiritual life as a disciple of Jesus take off in growth like you have never seen before. Daily reading of the Bible on your own will produce a spiritual growth in you that nothing else will.
Does that mean we give up sermons? Of course not. Does that mean we don’t do Bible studies? Of course not.
If you look at Jesus’ life, He regularly quoted the Old Testament, His version of the Bible. All the Gospel writers regularly quoted the Old Testament. Church historians and theologians lived in the reading and inwardly digesting of the Bible.
Just this past week, I heard about one of our church members who grew up in church but never read the Bible. Now, he is regularly reading the Bible on his own. A good friend of mine and I meet regularly on Saturday mornings as we read and study the Gospel of Mark. We have spent almost 24 months just in the Gospel of Mark; it has been so much fun. For the first time in her life, one of our CHS college students learning how to sit and be with God and read the Bible raw.
One of our Life Group leaders sent me this really neat link to a short article with graphs that shows how over 6000 people read, study, and engage the Bible. CLICK HERE to read this article. You will find this article interesting.
But, how do you get started? As our great spiritual leader, +Quigg, always says, “You need a time, a place and a method.” Those are some of the most basic but most useful words you will find in a disciple’s life. You simply start by finding a good time (morning is best I think, see the article link above), then find a quiet place to be by yourself (quiet room in the house, back porch, basement nook, etc.) and finally your method. This simply means grabbing your Bible and beginning to read. As Tim noted in his sermon, start with the Gospel of Luke or Mark. Ask God to help you know Him better, then read 1 chapter a day. Chew on the raw Bible words, images, stories, people and events. Then, ask God to help you understand and see Him in this reading time.
Then, do it again the next day, and the next, and so on. And, as +Quigg has said, don’t be discouraged if you miss a day. Just get right back on it the following day.
Next thing you know, this raw Bible reading will become a meal that nourishes and satisfies your soul like none other. Your path with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) will be lit as the Bible shines as a lamp unto your feet and a light to your path (Psalm 119:105).