Over the last two weeks, I have been arguing the position that Christians should strive to be readers. First, I explained why the topic of reading is important to me through my testimony. In my last post, I discussed what I don’t mean by that statement. Today, I’d like to talk about one reason why I think Christians should strive to be readers – our view of Scripture.
Christians should strive to be readers because we have a high view of the Scriptures. Now, obviously, when I say Christians should strive to be readers, my intention is much broader. We should read a lot of different books, not just the Bible. But I think the foundation for being a good reader is to have a proper understanding of Scripture.
Some say we shouldn’t focus too heavily on other books because we have all we need in God’s Word. The argument goes something like this: If we have a high view of Scripture, we will focus our time and energy on that. Thus (and no one says this, but the tone implies it), why would you spend your time on other books?
And in case you’re wondering, “Who argues that?” let me give you an example. Since starting a doctoral program, I am often asked, “Why are you doing it?” While most people are asking with good motives, there have been a few who have asked intending to question why I would want to read “those academics” (and some have come out and said as much!). Why would I spend time studying all these books by “scholars” and not just study the Bible? How useful is the doctoral program to being a pastor? Isn’t it a waste of time? Don’t I have more practical things to do?
However, I think the joy and value of reading starts with a proper love of God’s Word. I know this isn’t true of everyone, but I can tell you that I’m doing doctoral work because I love the Scriptures, not because I am trying to get past them. My high view of the Bible pushes me to want to be a better reader.
Let’s start with a foundational belief most who read this would ascribe to: God has recorded His Word in a book – Scripture. God decided to communicate to us through the written word. I want you to think about how amazing it is that we serve a God who speaks. God’s word is carved by His hand (Ex. 34:29). God’s Word is to be handwritten by the kings of Israel to rule faithfully (Deut. 17:18-20). God’s Word is to be read every seven years in its entirety to the people of Israel (Deut. 31:9-13). God’s Word brings faithful reform (2 Kings 22:8-23:27; Nehemiah 8). God’s Word is the source of blessing (Ps. 1:1-2). God’s Word is our surest guide (Ps. 119). God’s Word equips us for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). God’s Word pierces our hearts (Heb. 4:12). God’s Word is our weapon in the world (Eph. 6:17). God’s Word points us to Christ (1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2:16-21). And this is only a sampling of all He says of His written Word.
Here’s my point: God has decided that communication through written words would be a primary means (the other means being the teaching of that written word) by which He would reveal Himself to His creation. In so doing, God placed a high value on writing. God ordained the written word has value, not us. The written language does not originate with man who put a system together after millions of years of oral tradition. The written language originated with a God who writes.
We value the written word not because it is important but because the God who has ordained it is important. God could have communicated to us in many ways. However, the written word has always been a primary avenue of His communication to His people. God values the written word. Thus, we should too.
Thanks for reading.