Why Read The Bible?

Why do you read the Bible?

I suppose answers vary with individual needs and life’s seasons. At different moments we seek knowledge, inspiration, encouragement, comfort, and guidance.

When I thought through this idea (I actually do that occasionally) I wondered if there was a single, best, right answer. Since The Bible Is About God I was going to offer something profound like “…acquiring a better, more intimate knowledge of God” (thanks Clark).

It’s always comforting to have a nice, tidy answer to such a complex question, even if it’s far too simplistic.

Upon further review, I realized that I was really thinking about some uses of Scripture that seem decidedly inappropriate.


My friend Liz offers a wonderful word picture of folks who use Scripture as a weapon. She calls them “Bible-thumpin’ pick-n-choosers.” (I just love the image!)

Pick-n-choosers pre-determine their version of truth, search for a verse that seems to support their position, and then pound on the Bible. “It’s not me saying this—it’s the word of God!”

It reminds me of the iPhone ads that say, “Want to ____? There’s an app for that.”

For pick-n-choosers, it’s “Got an idea? There’s a verse for that.”

The pick-n-chooser rallying cry …

God’s on our side.

Hard to argue with that—it’s God’s word, right there in official King James English. And if one translation doesn’t quite work, we can look around until we find one with just the right words.

Ever meet one of these folks (nod your head)? Every discussion, every political debate, every question about truth or justice or anything else, ends with the definitive single verse that provides the right answer.

It’s especially interesting when two pick-n-choosers disagree. They throw apparently contradictory Scripture passages at each other like darts, complete with “gotcha that time!”

Who’s following whom?

I’m all for measuring our thoughts, ideas, and behaviors against the truth of Scripture. But I want to keep in mind who’s leading and who’s following.

I’d respectfully suggest that the goal ought to be to conform to my best understanding of God’s word rather than twisting Scripture to support my pre-conceived conclusions. That means two things for me.

I bring personal biases and blind spots into the discussion. If I acknowledge that human weakness, I can try to set it aside and be more aware of places where it clouds my vision.

I need to ask God for an open heart so I can hear the truth even when it contradicts deeply-held political or relational beliefs.

We’re all pick-n-chooses to some extent. It’s part of being human. I fall frequently into the trap of trying to get Jesus to follow me.

I want to move toward listening better, learning more, and making sure I’m the one who’s following.

Why do you read the Bible?