I was blessed to read the entire Bible in 2011, 12 and 13. I messed up last summer and got behind, so I did not finish in 2014. I'm going to get back on track in 2015. How about you?
As we welcome a new year, it is natural to reflect on years past and plan for the one ahead. Often our plans take the shape of resolutions. We resolve to lose weight, to find a better job, to go back to school, to manage our time better, to volunteer more and so on. While these kinds of resolutions are good, I wonder if this year we might commit ourselves to something deeper, something more beautiful. Now is the perfect time to commit to reading through the Bible in a year. Here are five reasons why you should consider dedicating 365 days to this pursuit:
1. You will learn more about God.
Christianity is, at its core, based on divine revelation. One of the most breathtaking and astonishing claims in Christian theology is that God has made Himself known. As you read the Bible, you will certainly become more knowledgeable about biblical events, heroes of the faith and Christian doctrine, but the Bible is more than that. In the Bible, God does not solely give us information, but in some sense He gives us Himself as He makes Himself known. If you spend the next 365 days reading the Bible, you will undoubtedly learn more about the Bible itself, but most importantly, you will grow in your fellowship with God.
2. You will learn more about yourself.
As you learn more about who God is, His character and His attributes, you will grow in the knowledge of self. In the Old Testament narratives, you might identify with the Israelites complaining in their wilderness wanderings (Exod. 14:11). In the Psalms, you might realize that you, like David, desire for the Lord to be your refuge (Ps. 7:1). Or perhaps in the Gospels, you will recognize that you, like Jesus’ disciples, are a clumsy follower, but God loves you anyway (John 21:15-19). As you read the Bible, you will find that the Bible is actually reading you. The Word of Christ is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). A rich and deep reading of the Scriptures will be a rich and deep reading of yourself.
3. You will get to practice an important spiritual discipline daily.
What we do inevitably shapes who we are. As Edgar Rice Burroughs famously said, “We are, all of us, creatures of habit.” Christians engage in spiritual disciplines because we are not naturally inclined to love God and His Word. Daily disciplines have a way of molding us into new people—people who love God and His Word. The consistent practice of reading the Bible reshapes, restructures and reorders our affections. Discipline, in this sense, is not a taskmaster but a tutor.
4. You will experience deeper communion with God.
God uses the Bible as a fundamental means of relating us. While reading Scripture, we find ourselves in the presence of the triune God. When Christians read the Bible, we’re hearing the Word of the Father, spoken through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. It is as if Jesus is present with Christians, speaking to us through the Spirit. As you read your Bible over the next year, you will see that communication from God sparks communion with God.
5. You will be nourished as you read God’s Word.
God uses the Bible to feed us. Jesus has given His Word to the Church in order to provide nutrition to His people, like a shepherd provides green grass and water for his flock. Jesus reiterates this point when He remarks, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). At a time when so many resolutions will be geared toward health and fitness, consider the health and nourishment of your own soul. The Bible is your support and nourishment.