First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
We talk a lot about reading the Bible, and knowing what the Scriptures say; but sadly, few people actually read the Bible, outside of a few verses for a devotion, or scanning the insert before church. And so one is prone to wonder: what prevents us from reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting the Bible as we should?
Is it time? Is it a concern of not understanding what you are reading? Is it intimidation on how to read such a big book?
Perhaps it is some combination of the three. But might I suggest a different reason: fear. Not a fear of not understanding or a fear of where to begin, but a fear of what you might find out.
Yes, when you start to read the Bible, you discover things. Some of them interesting things, like the Sermon on the Mount; some of them curious things like the lineage of kings; but some very scary things as well. When you read the Bible; and I mean read the Bible, not reading a verse or two as assigned in Portals of Prayer, but literally opening up the Bible and reading whole chapters, even whole books; you discover some very scary things.
What you discover is how much of a lost and condemned sinner you truly are. When you read Exodus and Leviticus and Deuteronomy, you see how much God demands of His people. When you read Samuel and Kings and Chronicles, you see just how much life in Israel resembles life today with power hungry leaders and wayward citizens. When you read the prophets, you see a God who is very patient, but also very angry when His people disobey. When you read St. Paul, you realize how the Church has always had false prophets in its midst, and how easy it is to fall away. When you read Revelation, you start to wonder about who, if any, will be saved.
Do you see what happens? The more you read, the more you see how short you, and all people, fall of the Glory of God. Like St. Paul, the more of the Law you know, the more sins you discover yourself guilty of.
And so we develop a fear of the Bible. A fear that if we keep reading, if we keep going from one verse to the next, from one chapter to the next, from one book to the next, that we will find ourselves outside of the kingdom of God. We fear that eventually God will have enough of us, just as He seemingly had enough of others throughout history.
But don’t let that stop you from reading the Scriptures. For while you will find much that may cause you fear; there is also much cause for comfort and for rejoicing.
In Genesis you see how God, out of His great love for you, created the heavens and the earth and you. In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, you see how God not only delivered His people out of slavery, but how He also provided for them for 40 years, and brought them to the Promised Land. Throughout the Historical books and the Prophetic books, you read again and again how God was watching over His people, calling them again and again to turn from their false gods. In St. Paul’s Epistles, you read how in the midst of the confusion and chaos and even turmoil of the early days of the Church, God provided faithful pastors and leaders to teach and preach and administer the sacraments. In Revelation, you read how yes, the Last Day will be one of suffering for those who reject God, but for those who believe, it will be a great and awesome day.
And of course, in the Gospels, you read how Christ Jesus came into the world; lived a perfect life; died, rose and ascended, so that you might have forgiveness, life and salvation.
Do not fear the Word of the Lord, rather run to it, seek it out; read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it. For in that Word of the Lord, you will see how great God’s love is for you.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt