Monday, April 30, 2012

Read Whole Books

I've posted instructions for meditating on small bits of scripture: a practice I've found to be of incalculable value, but today I want to highlight the benefit of reading swaths of scripture all at once. By reading one verse at a time we discover insights that we miss in a quick read through.  There is, however, a disadvantage to taking scripture a piece at a time. The disadvantage is this: we lose the context for that verse. 

 Mark 9:47 reads, “If your eye causes you to sin, gauge it out and throw it away,” This verse is confusing.  If read without its context one could conclude that Christ commanded his followers to mutilate themselves in order to enter God's kingdom. Poor mislead people have occasionally actually done this.
If you're wondering whether Jesus literally intended his followers to blind themselves, then just read to the following chapter. Jesus makes it crystal clear that human works, including self-mutilation, cannot earn God's kingdom (Mark 10:26-27). If the context of two chapters isn't enough then the context of the book ought to be. Mark leaves no ambiguity about whose actions can and will save mankind.

Image By: Jan Tito
The great thing about reading full sections of the Bible is that it helps us to grasp the big picture of God's message. Every little detail of God's word is worthy of our attention, but just as each stroke of an artist's brush is intentional and meaningful, we won't get the artists intention unless we occasionally step back to look at the whole picture. So read whole books.  Most of the New testament books were meant to be read as letters are read: in one go.

If you have attention problems you might consider listening to a recording. The Bible Experience is one that I personally love. Additionally you might try reading a Message Bible (Free Here) which can make a long read less tiring.

I pray you find joy in the beautiful composition of God's word. Happy Reading!

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