One of the things I am trying to get a better appreciate of is art. To be honest so much of art I do not understand and because I do not understand it, I do not appreciate the skill of the artist or the genius of the piece. However, I have found that when I take time to study the piece and understand what the artist is communicating, I really appreciate what I am looking at. For instance, recently I was taking time to study Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”.
At first glance you might look at the painting and see that the artist had skill and some creativity but until you truly examine the painting you miss out on how great this painting is. The closer you look at the picture you will soon discover that the artist used thousands upon thousands of dots to create this painting. It took Seurat two years to complete this masterpiece. The painting is massive measuring 6 ft 10 in x 10 ft 1in. As I learned more about the artist and more and more about the painting, my appreciation for this painting has grown immensely.
I think that too often as Christians we do not value or appreciate the Scriptures because we to do not take the time to study and understand what the Bible is communicating. The Bible has gone from being a book that is to be diligently studied to find out what the original context was and what the author was communicating to the original readers, to a book of independent verses without any true story being told.
It is most unfortunate that the Bible has become almost a mystical book and superstitious book rather than God’s Word to us. As Christians we hunt and peck throughout the Bible trying to find a verse that we can claim as our own without first trying to understand what the verse means in its context, then applying it to our lives.
Here are a few practical suggestions to help you be a better Bible reader:
1. Read the Old Testament. Too often as Christians we either do not read the Old Testament or when we do read it we look for only moral stories rather than seeing how the Old Testament is pointing us to Jesus. As we better understand the Old Testament we have a greater appreciation for the New Testament. Remember the Bible Jesus had and the Bible the early church had was the Old Testament. Do not over look the tremendous value of the Old Testament.
2. Read the different books of the Bibles as books. If someone was to write you a letter would you start in the middle of the letter? No. You would start in the beginning and work your way through it. Just as letters have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so do the books of the Bible. Instead of opening up your Bible to a random page and reading what is on the page, pick a book and read through it.
3. Take the time to get to know the context of each book. Is the book written to a particular church, person, or group of people? Why would the author write this letter or book to them? What are some key themes throughout the book? There are so many great resources out there that can help answer these questions for you. I would encourage you to purchase the ESV Study Bible. I think this is the best study Bible on the market and does a great job giving the context of each book.
4. Slow down as you read. Do not just try to speed read through the Bible. Remember the Bible is God’s Word and is holy and precious. As you read Scripture you are reading the very words of God!!
5. Pray. The Bible teaches that God gives us wisdom if we ask for it. Ask God to give you wisdom as you read.
As much as we can learn and appreciate from studying art, how much more can we learn and appreciate God’s Word if we study it. In God’s love he took over 1000 years to write his Bible, using 3 different languages, over 40 different authors, who ranged from kings to shepherds. He did this so that we might know his Son and the glory of his salvation. Praise be to God for his mighty Word.