One time I walked into the wrong movie theater, where the movie I had paid to watch was already halfway through. A sea battle was ensuing with swords clashing and cannons blasting in surround sound. The audience gasped as they watched their beloved characters struggle to survive. As for me, I sat with cold indifference.
I didn’t care. I had missed the beginning.
Movies are meant to be viewed from beginning to end. Even if you step out just to pop some popcorn, when you get back you will ask, “What did I miss?” because you might have missed an important chunk.
You don’t cheer for the hero who has no history, and you don’t cry at the funeral of a complete stranger.
How Should We Read the Bible?
The Bible is not a movie. But why not approach it like a movie? After all, the Bible includes a lot of narratives, and when it is all put together it makes a complete story of God’s grace.
However, it’s convenient to use the Bible as a reference book. When our problematic life is getting us down, we want to pop a couple feel-good-Bible-verse pills and move on. But the Bible was not written like an encyclopedia of helpful tips. Unfortunately, I believe we Christians are often content with walking into the battle scene without first getting introduced to all the characters. We don’t mind getting a fragment of the story during Sunday’s sermon while never thinking to ask “What did I miss?”
Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover
One of the absolute best decisions I made in my life was to read the Bible from cover to cover.
One of the absolute best decisions I made in my life was to read the Bible from cover to cover. I decided to plow through it, stopping for nothing and skipping nothing. Yes, the genealogies were not as exciting, especially when I didn’t understand their importance. Likewise, the blueprints of the tabernacle can get repetitive, but God had a purpose for those details as well. The complexity of the prophets could be confusing, and some of Paul’s writings didn’t seem to apply to me. But I wanted to know what the whole Bible says. By the time I reached the Psalms I found myself highlighting common themes and drawing timelines of Bible happenings. By the time I reached the gospels I was gasping and laughing and crying. I began to care.
Now is a good time to start
With a new year upon us, now is a great time for you to begin reading the Bible from cover to cover, here are some tips I learned from my own experience:
Pick a translation that you enjoy. We have the privilege of living in an age that has multiple translations, with some easier to understand than others. I first started my read through with the NLT. While this is not a great study Bible, I got hooked on God’s redemptive story in this easy read.
Begin “in the beginning,” end at the end. I don’t like most Bible reading plans because they mix up the Old and New Testaments as if we need our fix of the familiar New to balance the unfamiliar Old. Reading from front to back reveals the story of God in an incredibly powerful way. The OT is the foundation for the NT.
Take brief notes. Try recording common themes, confusing questions, and life-lessons you are learning. You might find yourself sharing this material with others!
Stick to reading the whole thing. Don’t stop for too long and don’t be afraid to skim sections that don’t capture your attention. You don’t have to understand or retain every detail. You can trust that God will reveal to you what you need to know. After all, hopefully this won’t be the only time you read through the Bible!
Johnny Kjaer Johnny Kjaer oversees the Youth and Skatepark Ministries at Faith Church. He can often be found serving the community with the teenagers. His passion is to assist parents in training their teens to love the Lord. He and his wife, Tori, have two boys, Leif and Tryggve.