My three-year old son loves to “read” Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop. Of course, he does not actually read the words (especially “Constantinople” and “Timbuktu”). However, he will flip every page and recite every word on the page, not missing more than a couple words in the whole book. Boy genius? No, just a whole lot of repetition. So, in his case, you could say that the secret to good reading is re-reading. While Seuss was a creative writer and his classics are certainly worth the re-read, something about this particular book has captured my young son’s little mind. He wants to read it every day. He wants us to read it to him. He wants to read it to us. With every read, he becomes more familiar with its words and images. He has even connected each episode in the book into a larger story, so that you cannot miss one part without having to go back and “read it right.” It is also fun to watch him trying to connect the scenes with reality as he weighs the morality of “We fight all night” or wants me to play “hop on Pop” with him (which I usually turn into a tickling match).
The Bible is “misread” if it does not stretch our minds to consider the majesty and grace of God, does not draw our souls to freeing forgiveness or does not compel our hearts to love God and others more than ourselves.
I think my son has discovered something about reading that really applies to good Bible reading. The secret to good Bible reading is re-reading. Reading the Bible daily or having others read it to you (in sermons or small groups) is a great way to have its words, images and truths impressed into our minds. As we continue to read (or re-read), the Bible’s larger story becomes more apparent, and we get a better sense of how each “episode” fits within the broader story. Furthermore, to read the Bible rightly includes not only stuffing our brains with more knowledge of biblical trivia or key phrases, but good Bible reading also impacts the whole of our lives. The Bible is “misread” if it does not stretch our minds to consider the majesty and grace of God, does not draw our souls to freeing forgiveness or does not compel our hearts to love God and others more than ourselves. Good Bible reading affects mind, soul and heart.
Do you have a lingering thirst for reading the Bible as God’s Word? Just like with a recurring thirst, no matter how many times we have drunk previously, we must drink again and again. So, whether you are beginning your spiritual journey with the Lord or have walked this path many years, drink deeply from the well of God’s Word. Every reading or re-reading of the Bible carries the potential of a life-changing encounter with a holy God. As the reformer Martin Luther says in his commentary on Psalm 19, “the Word of God makes healthy men … the Word of God refreshes, revives and comforts the weak, burdened, and disturbed consciences that were previously troubled.”