Why Read Scripture?
This month, our church family is working together to encourage and challenge each other in our daily faith. We have chosen four challenges (plus the kid’s sign language challenge!) to work on together this month. Over the course of the next several weeks, we will be sharing in a conversation about how and why these challenges can contribute to our spiritual (and even physical) health.
The practice of reading Scripture rarely needs to be propped up within religious communities. It has been and will continue to be an important source of both knowledge about the story of our faith and encouragement/challenge to live faithfully.
And yet, even though that is the case, many people will admit that regular reading of Scripture can be a difficult habit to form in their lives. In a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2017, 35% of religious Americans of various faiths reported that they read Scripture once a week while 45% said that they seldom or never read from their scriptures. That means that 35% of people in the U.S. encounter Scripture once a week (likely when they go to their time of worship), and only as much as 20% of religious people read Scripture more often than once a week.
Now, of course, we know that statistics and studies can be and often are flawed, but these numbers strike me as important to consider and important to think about. The reasons for these numbers can vary widely, and I certainly don’t have time to discuss in one blog post what and how valid or not they might be.
But today, and this month, what I would like to do is to give us a reason to encounter Scripture daily. And again, some will need no convincing. Some have a practice of reading Scripture even as the very first (or second only to making a cup of coffee) thing that they do every day. However, if 45% of religious people don’t read or encounter Scripture on even a weekly basis, then I think we have some work to do here.
So, what’s the big reveal? Why should we read Scripture regularly, even daily?
Well, we might read Scripture for any number of good reasons. We might read Scripture to learn about our faith. Or to seek answers to questions or doubts that we are facing. We might read to grow and change into a more Christ-like person, looking to the stories and wisdom contained in Scripture to teach us the best way to live according to God. And these are all wonderful and good reasons, and are needed at various times in our lives.
But that’s not the reason I would like to put forth to you today. No, today I would like to offer to you that we read Scripture in order to meet God. It is in the pages of Scripture that we meet the very God who created us and sustains us. It is in the pages of Scripture that we learn about God and ourselves, yes, but more deeply, it is in Scripture that we encounter this God in history. And the beauty of the Christian story, too, is that our encounter with God is not limited to the pages of Scripture! The story comes alive not only in these pages, but in our lives too. As we are transformed into the image and likeness of God through following Jesus, we meet and encounter God in our daily life too. The Holy Spirit resides within us and begins to preside over our lives. And we begin to meet God, not just in the pages of Scripture, but in the people that God has created (Matthew 25:31-46). And we come to know that not only was Jesus a man upon whom a movement of people was founded some 2,000 years ago, but he was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We read Scripture to meet God because contained within these pages, we have the stories of the lives of men and women who encountered this God and were faithful to share the story down through the centuries so that we too might meet this God.
And so, this month, I encourage you to open up the Scriptures. Search them for knowledge and truth. Find in them wisdom and advice. Seek to be faithful through your reading of the text. But, most importantly, be ready and willing to meet the God who created you and who causes the sun to rise and set every day. My prayers go with you as you seek to find this God.