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What is the Bible About Anyway?

The Bible can be intimidating right? When you pick it up to read, where do you start?  In the beginning? (#punning). Or do you start with the words of the wise in Proverbs? Jesus seems to be pretty important. Do you start by reading about His life in the Gospel books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

Whether you’re new to Christianity or have been following Jesus for a lifetime, knowing how to read the Bible and where to start can be a challenge.

Confession: I’m a 100% through and through book nerd. My idea of a hot Friday night? A good book in one hand a glass of vino in the other. I devour books as if they are a big ‘ole fat slice of pie. I love books. I love pie.

But the Bible, well, the Bible is more difficult to pick up and just read. Why is that? I grew up in a church culture where memorizing Bible verses was valued and emphasized and I’m eternally better off for it. To this day, I can remember verses I memorized as a kid. And while the memory verse exercise was great, it wasn’t until much later in my adult life, I began to understand the Bible as a whole, as one big story made up of a bunch of tiny stories with one common theme woven throughout.  The isolated memory verses were part of a much larger story being told through a particular time and culture and through specific real people with real circumstances.

I have a two year son named Justice. What this means is we have a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible. I have to tell you, I have learned a lot about the meaning of the Bible from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Look at how it intros:

 “God wrote, “I love you” – He wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote the message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror – to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims. And God put it into words, too, and wrote it in a book called, 'the Bible.'"

Isn’t that good? God loves you. He wants you to know Him because knowing Him, changes everything about you. Knowing Him makes your heart sing. The Bible is God’s love poured out as penned words on paper.

I’ve mentioned my obsession with books. I may have 3 or 83 books on my nightstand right this hot second. One of them is by Bible teacher, Jen Wilkin. It’s called Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with both our Hearts and our Minds.

Here’s Jen’s take on the Bible.

“From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is telling us about the reign and rule of God. This is the big story of the Bible, the purpose for which it was written. Each of its sixty-six books contributes to telling this big story – a story of creation, fall, redemption and rule of God. The Bible purposes to tell us this big story in a thousand smaller stories, from its first page to its last.”  

So it goes without saying, any attempt to read and understand and relate to one of the smaller stories without keeping in the mind the big story, can cause confusion, produce weak theology and likely create space for discouragement to grow and take root. Ugh. Who has time for that?

Everything changes when we view the smaller narratives of the Bible through the lens of the bigger story God is telling throughout.

As Wilkin pointed out, the Bible can be broken up into four big ideas. Creation (Gen 1-2, created to be with God), the Fall (Gen 3, separation from God), Redemption (this is the work of Jesus – aka Emmanuel meaning God with us; by His death and resurrection, He redeemed us back into a relationship with God), and Restoration (this is the process of making all things new again, of restoring all creation as God designed – described in Rev. 21-22 when we are once again with God).

So the next time you pick up the Bible, keep in mind, while it’s chocked full of interesting and weird and wild stories, its overarching purpose is to put words to how loved you are by a good and loving God. All the big and little stories, the heroic stories and the confusing stories, and all the detail in between point in the direction of Jesus, either to the first time He showed in a manger or to the next time when He’ll come again. In a plot no man could ever dare to dream up, God Himself entered the story in the person of Jesus. No greater love story has ever been told. His love is relentless. It’s unstoppable and it’s for you!

For more resources to assist you as you study your Bible, grab one with additional study helps. I like the Archeological Bible because at the start of every book, it gives some helpful information about the book such as who wrote it, who they wrote it to, an outline of the main themes and some of the cultural significance. Tools like this can help you better understand what you are reading and why it's important. Concordances and commentaries are also helpful.

And lastly, have you heard of The Bible Project? It’s the creation of two very creative and smart guys who recap books of the Bible by way of storytelling videos. They tell the overarching theme of the book and highlight the thread of God’s love throughout. You’ve got to check them out. 

In part two of this series on the Bible, we’ll examine closer how the Bible is the best source of information. Yes it was written thousands of years ago; making it as ancient as they come, yet, the more we know of God and what He cares about, the better informed we are in our day to day life today.

I shared some of the helps I use to read and understand my Bible. What helps you as you read?

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I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.