I’ve often said or heard this excuse and maybe some of you have as well when your faith started to feel like a duty. “Reading the Bible everyday is too religious.” The cycle usually goes something like this: We have a radical spiritual experience and realize that we really need and want to get to know the Bible better. So we are all excited and determined to read through the whole thing.
The next morning we will get our coffee and a journal, snap a selfie for Instagram and start at “In the beginning”. We read a couple chapters, slowly coming down from that spiritual high. But as the days go on and Genesis turns into Exodus and then Exodus turns into Leviticus we find ourselves not being as gung-ho as we once were. We start to periodically skip a day, and then two. And before we know it, we are right back where we started.
We will start to do whatever we can to justify not reading regularly. If we don’t feel like doing it anymore, then we write off that spiritual discipline as “being religious”. Since we don’t want to do it, then automatically we call it religion because it starts to feel like a duty. I’ve done the same thing. I always wanted to know the Bible better and learn to love the Word, but after a few days in a row of reading it, boredom crept in and I no longer had that desire, which was initially so strong.
I knew that I was supposed to read the Bible, but as soon as it became a duty I would speak for God and say, “He wants relationship, not religion.”
But the thing is….in order to continue and cultivate a meaningful relationship, you need to invest time and energy into it.
Sometimes I don’t want to do something for someone or spend time with them. But I know that in order to continue and grow that relationship, I choose to sacrifice my own wants and desires. If this whole Christianity thing is a personal relationship, then are you regularly making time for that relationship?
If I didn’t spend time getting to know my fiancé, then that relationship would slowly grow cold and stagnant, eventually dying. I realize that I need to regularly make time to talk and spend time with her, one on one.
“But I go to church every Sunday,” some might say. That is great, but if that is all we do, then we end up living vicariously through our pastors. Try getting to know your spouse that way. If people tell me that my fiancé loves me, but I don’t actually spend time with her and hear it from her, that isn’t enough. I need to get to know her myself.
If we claim that our faith is a relationship and we don’t spend time with Jesus, then what kind of a worthless relationship is that?
Why is our relationship with Jesus less important than getting together with friends, family or your significant other? Most of us don’t have a problem finding time to spend with them. Even if we don’t want to, we often will recognize the importance of making time for one another and, in contrast, the dangers of not doing so. It shouldn’t be any different with Jesus. If anything, we should be much quicker to sacrifice our time and desires to spend time with Jesus through reading, praying and listening.
We are quick to tell everyone that our faith is a relationship and not religion; yet we don’t treat it as one.
Even if you do recognize that the discipline of reading everyday is about relationship and not religion, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to love it right away. But what I’ve found for reading the Bible is the same as for working out. The more I work out, the more I learn to love working out. In the same way, the more I read and understand the Bible, the more I love to read and study the Bible. I learn to love those things that were once dull, monotonous or felt like a duty.
So as you begin reading the Bible daily, remember above all…..you are working on cultivating a relationship, not fulfilling your religious duty.
Pray for God to give you a love for the Word and a desire to meditate on it day and night as David describes in the Psalms. You are choosing to invest in your relationship with Jesus, whether you feel like it or not. I’m confident that as you continue to do so, you will begin to better understand the Word and in turn, love the Word and desire to read it daily.