Love The Author
Author of Love
Melissa and I recently went to a conference geared toward youth ministry. We got to hear form a lot of different speakers and learn a lot of different things. Some of them were authors, some of them lead a company, and others just knew what they were doing and were successful. One author/speaker/evangelist was David Nasser. The guy had an incredible story. However, there is one thing I remember him saying briefly that really stuck out to me.
If you don’t love the author…
He said “if you don’t love the author, you can’t love the book.” At first this sounds like a backward statement . I know that for me I generally don’t know anything about an author before I read the book. For example, I couldn’t tell you anything about Suzanne Collins, but I could tell you a lot of things about Katniss Everdeen (Collins is the author of the Hunger Games trilogy). The book that Nasser is talking about is a bit different.
He is talking about the Bible. The author is God. It is His Word put to paper. When you think about it this way it makes a lot of sense. When you love someone you want to figure out everything there is to know about them in order to love them in the best way possible. In the modern world this might mean checking their Facebook thoroughly, or spending time on their social media sites. You’ll spend lots of time getting to know them because you love them.
When we love God, we should want to know everything about him. Not only is he the author of the Bible, but he is also the author of love. If we truly want to know everything about God, we should have a desire to read the Bible. If we do not love the author, we will have no interest in the book. This works doubly so when it comes to reading the Bible. Loving the author is the only way to reveal the mysteries of the Bible.
…you can’t love the book.
If we are not in love with God, his Word is nonsense. We will find it boring (okay, even if you love God with your entire heart you may still be bored at times). We will find it confusing. Ultimately there will be no desire to read the Bible if we do not love God.
This does not mean that someone cannot read the Bible to find love and find God. Even when you read a work of fiction you are learning a lot about the author. You are learning their writing style, their preferences, and perhaps even how they feel about social issues. There are plenty of people who randomly pick up the Bible and find God because of it.
On the other hand, there are plenty of people who read the Bible and get nothing out of it. There wasn’t a relationship with the author and they didn’t acquire one by reading it. There are a couple of reasons this happens. First, they may have a hardened heart when reading the Bible. They are reading critically or in order to find some kind of inconsistencies. It becomes a tool to use against Christians. This shouldn’t be surprising to us; Satan himself used Scripture when tempting Jesus! (See Matthew 4:6) Second, they may be reading the Bible as a history book, or a book of mythology or as a fictitious book. These types of people are reading the Bible with an attitude that makes it difficult for them to see the holiness of the texts. They are reading the Bible, but they certain do not love its author.
But I do Love the Author!
Fair enough. A lot of people have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and a love for God. When they read the Bible they are actually hoping to hear a message from God. They want to receive the truth into their lives and they want God’s direction. Nevertheless, they leave their quiet times with frustration and their hearts still empty. When this happens people want to give up. They no longer see the point in reading the Bible. This is the wrong answer. Instead, we need to take a different approach to Scripture reading. Here are three things we might try to do in order to get more out of our Scripture reading.
1.) Make sure we really Love the Author.
It is easy to say and think that we love God. We probably really mean it. However, sometimes we only love him partially. Perhaps we have not really surrendered our entire lives over to him. There might be a sin that we have not confessed, or there may be unforgiveness towards others in our hearts. These kinds of things prevent us from having the perfect relationship with God that we can have. Before we can expect to hear more from God we need to make sure that we are already doing what we know. We know that we need to seek God to overcome sin and bad habits, so this might be a first step when our devotional time is falling short.
2.) Make sure that we are varying up what we are reading.
There is a natural tendency for people to want to start at the beginning of the Bible and read it page by page until we get to the end. This is all well and good since there is a reason the Bible was put together that way. However, this is also probably the most difficult way to read the Bible. Most people if they are dedicated enough to get to the book of Leviticus or Numbers will have met their match. There is a lot of dry stuff in there that is not always interesting. As you get past those books there starts to be a lot of repetition. Trying to read straight through this is probably not going to be as rewarding or as useful to us as reading Scripture could be.
Instead, try to read different parts of the Bible. This might mean reading a bit from the Old Testament and then a bit from the New Testament. Some people will throw a Psalm or a few Proverbs in there as well. That way you get a bit of the history of God and his people, but you also read about what Jesus had to say when he was on earth. This is a more fulfilling way to read the Bible.
3.) Try to read the Bible with a plan.
Reading the Bible is easier and more helpful when we attempt to read it with a plan in mind. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, instead of just reading the Bible you might try to do some kind of study with it. This might be with a group, or it might be alone. Maybe you will just take a word and look up all the verses that have to do with that word. Most Bibles have some kind of resource page in the back that can help you find verses that are related. If not, try using the internet.
Another way to read the Bible with a plan is to have some questions ready to go that you are trying to answer. After reading a passage ask yourself these three questions: What did it mean for the original audience that it was written to? What does it mean for me? How does it apply to our world today? By coming up with an answer to these three questions after reading a passage of Scripture you can walk away knowing that you have accomplished at least three things after reading.
Make sure that you are in prayer when reading.
The final point that I will make on this subject is that of the need for prayer. We need to make sure that our time spent with the author of love is surrounded by prayer. Before reading and after reading we need prayer. Praying while you read is also a good idea. The Bible is God’s living word, but prayer is the language that God speaks through as well. If we are not praying and reading scripture we are not having the complete relationship with Jesus that we need to have.
What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks for reading the Bible that helps? Do you truly love the author?