Bible + Nothing = Enough
We have so many "Bible Studies". So many supplemental materials to help us along in our interaction with the Bible. I think over the years people have just settled into the assumption that the Bible all by itself isn't enough.
Almost like the Bible can't stand alone. Left alone, it's insufficient or in need of backup support. I think people, in general, believe some lies about bible engagement.
First, that you have to understand everything in order to get anything out of it. Second, that the stories of the bible are detached from the realities of modern civilization. Third, that you need a professional to feed it to you (like Gerber baby food). Fourth, that if you've read it once there is no reason to read it again because it will say the same thing. (true, if you mean it doesn't change; false, if you mean how you read it doesn't change) Fifth, that you need "fill-in-the-blanks" and "additional commentary" in order to not lose interest. Sixth, that you can't make a mistake in interpretation or else you'll be banished from the assembly. Seventh, that the words will be too deep and make you feel more stupid than you already do. Eighth, that when you compare your observations with other people's, they won't stack up and make the "maturity" cut. Ninth, that you have to read into everything with some deep spiritual meaning and that it couldn't be as simple as it seems. And tenth, that you can't be bored by the Bible sometimes without feeling unspiritual. (I'm bored by the Bible at times, but I've learn to not over-think it and carry the self-fulfilled prophecy into tomorrow. It's not a big deal, just keep reading and don't beat yourself up. It might be something that you'll understand in 2 years or 10 years or 20 years. It's ok, don't sweat it.)
As I read the New Testament the last couple weeks, I was surprised how sufficient it was all by itself. There were passages that went over my head, yes. There were other passages that I already knew and breezed through. But then there were new nuggets of truth that I felt like I mined out for the first time. New nectar tucked in between the pages like buried pollen packed in the pedals of a flower.
Letting God speak for himself and letting God be himself without anyone else's augmentation was surprisingly fresh and refreshing.
So if you're feeling intimidated to read your Bible, don't be. Just crack it open and take it in. When you come to something you don't understand, make a note of it and move on. Don't get hung up on trivialities and incidentals. Look for the overarching storyline.
And remember, it's just as important to hear God's voice as it is to read God's word. It would be a travesty if you stopped at the words and didn't take in the voice. The voice is what brings to personality and vitality to the words.
So as I start another week of reading the Bible with my "faith community" at Impact. I'm starting tomorrow with an expectation that God wants to say something to me, maybe not everything, but something. And that is enough. He is enough.