If you google “reading the Bible with others” it’s not until the 9th result where you find anything about how to read the Bible in a community of people.
Are we so individualistic in our thinking that it’s just not that common for people to read the Bible together?
Is google broken?
From an early age we are told that we need to keep up with a daily routine of reading the Bible (the earlier the better of course) This is important but not because we need God to show up in our every day interactions (mmm maybe He’s already in them) but because it helps direct our minds towards him so we will have our eyes and minds opened to Him in those places and with those people we least expect to find Him.
More on reading the Bible alone tomorrow.
But what if alongside private Bible reading we spent the same time reading with other people. What if we were able to bounce ideas off each other, disagree with each other, wrestle with passages together, have a more wholesome (and I don’t mean in the PG sense, just read Song of Songs to see what I mean) reading where our ideas can compliment others who know more or less than us.
Since we have been trained to read the Bible individually our whole lives; when we start to read it with other people we tend to still come to it with an individual mindset. The ideas we discuss as a group are generally applied to our own individual lives.
But what if there is more? What if while reading the Bible we should be looking to the bigger picture outside ourselves?
The overall arc of the Bible is not one about how we simply get to Heaven and how to survive while we wait to get out of here.
It’s a story of God’s ongoing redemption of the world that we screwed up. It’s a story of how He planned for Israel to be his hands and his feet to accomplish it. It’s a story of people individually and collectively rejecting Him and His undying love for them bringing them back.
What would happen the when we read the Bible together in the back of our mind was this idea that there is something bigger going on than me? What if everything we read we asked what does this mean for us a group of people and how can we serve with it?
Now I know this isn’t an attractive idea. I know that Bible reading has become so much about what is this saying about me. Serving others is not fun. But it is where real life is found.
Having a reading of the Bible where other people are the point and not just us is where the real beauty of Jesus’ story can come alive for each of us.
Individual reading so often encourages us to think of ways in which we can be more like Christ but this is usually translated as how can we more like Christ by not screwing up?
Interpretation: My life goal is not to sin and because this is how I read the Bible anytime I do sin the guilt weighs so heavily that I can’t see past myself.
What if group reading encouraged us to think of ways we can be more like Christ by serving others? Meaning, how can we keep in our minds the idea that there is a bigger story at play which actually has less to do with my personal sin check list and more about serving the world.
Surely that’s a part of why Jesus came to save us. Maybe even it’s the main reason
Having said that, how should we read the Bible individually?