One time a while back, I went to the gym to fit in my regular workout and realized that I was missing an important piece of equipment — my contact lenses. I am afflicted with nearsightedness and therefore, stuff beyond the end of my nose all looks blurry. For some reason, when packing my bag that day, the thought of seeing while I worked out did not occur to me even though for me, not being able to see is aggravating. But since I was there, I got dressed and began my exercise routine anyway.
The workout was not a pleasant one. I had two different people come up to me and say, "Hi, Norm." In both situations I squinted and got really close to decipher who they were, also apologizing profusely for my behavior. I told them I was flying without my contacts. As I rode on the stationary bike, a tormenting thought occurred to me, "I probably have offended someone by ignoring them!"
The famous reformation theologian John Calvin once said, "The Scriptures (The Holy Bible) are like a pair of spectacles that enable us to properly interpret what we see in creation." Calvin was suggesting that the Bible presents an accurate understanding of our world; helping us to make sense of the life we live so that we can live better lives.
Some may criticize such a strong endorsement of the Bible, and from my own perspective, God's word does not always fit in the nice tidy boxes that I would like to make it fit into. The Bible says of itself, however, in II Timothy 3:16, that, "All scripture is God-breathed." And the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path." While these are internal arguments for the Bible's helpfulness and veracity, one of my favorite external reasonings is the idea that the Bible, competing with the other major worldviews — for example naturalism and pantheism — lays out the most compelling and intelligent reason for our existence. The Bible answers the four big questions: What is our origin? Why are we here? How should we live? What is our final destiny?
Maybe you could benefit from a set of spectacles right now in your life. If you are interested, here is a way to get started with the Bible right now.
First, all you need is a quiet place for maybe 5-30 minutes, a Bible and a notebook for journaling. It could be daily or just a few days a week. Find a pace that works for you.
Second is the challenge of where to start. For beginners or those with limited experience in the Bible, I suggest not starting at the beginning as you normally would in a book but jump to the middle. Start with a book called Proverbs or a briefer one called James. Both of these are sections of wisdom literature. Another great place to start is with one of the gospels. These are the biographies of the life of Jesus Christ. I recommend Mark. If you are more experienced, you may want to tackle the Psalms, Isaiah or Romans.
Third, here are some steps to take: Begin with prayer, praising and thanking God for who he is and all that he has done for you. Follow that by confessing any disruptions in your relationship with God (sin) that you committed. Then ask God for help in understanding what you will read. Then read a chapter or a paragraph from one of the chosen Biblical passages. After reading, take a few minutes to reread portions so that you are getting the gist of what is happening in that segment. As a way to interact with the passage more, you could answer the following questions and write down your answers in your journal: What did you like in the passage? What didn't you like? What big question is being answered in this passage? What did you learn about God? What are you going to do about what you have learned here? Finish up by praying, thanking God for what you have learned and ask him to help you carry out his ways.
What would your life be like if you became more familiar with the Bible and God's ways? I do not think you would regret it and God would begin to speak to you in powerful ways. And you would not be flying without spectacles.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, with two locations meeting Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at Petoskey Middle School and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. More information is online at www.genesiswired.com or on Twitter @normbyers.