When I ask people if they’ve read the Bible, the answer is usually no. Yet when I ask if they know what it says, the answer is usually yes.
When I ask why they don’t read the Bible, I commonly hear the same barriers. I’d like to refute the top 10 reasons I hear most often.
1. I'm not religious.
The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Jesus has been hailed by secular sources as the most influential person to ever walk the earth. Most people, even those who don't worship God, agree that Jesus was a good person with a message of love that changed humanity – so much so that the world divides the measurement of time based on HIS life.
2. The Bible is for white Americans.
The Bible has full translations in 531 languages and has portions translated in 2,883 languages. It is read by people-groups and cultures around the world. It's the only book that has such staggering cross-cultural popularity. No wonder Jesus is referred to as a “healer of all nations” in Revelation 22:2.
3. I can't get past Genesis.
Anglo-saxons, or Westerners, are the biggest culprit of this because they think linearly. They open the Bible at the beginning, go through it chronologically, and somewhere after Moses get confused and stop reading.
Other cultures, most actually, think differently than Westerners. They look at text circularly or thematically. I recommend to a reader from any culture to start in the book of John. It's not too long, you'll find information about the ages including stories of Jesus and it says a lot about the true meaning of love.
For the remainder, you can find multiple reading plans online in your style, pace and desired translation.
4. It's boring.
How can an ancient text compete with today's short attention spans? What if you didn’t look at this as an old writing, but rather as a love letter to you from God. He wants to reveal Himself to you, yes you, and this is the information He has chosen to bring to you. If someone else, anyone else, wrote you a love letter, would you put it aside because it was "boring?"
A modern language translation can help you pay attention. Also try journaling a chapter at a time and reflect upon these universal questions: What does this passage say about the nature of God? What does it say about the nature of people? What are five things I can be thankful for in this passage? You can use the free app in any translation on your phone.
5. I can't understand it
It's a ministry of the Holy Spirit to guide you into truth and help you understand. It's clear throughout the Bible that God does not withhold his Spirit. All you need to do is ask God to give you understanding. The Bible itself instructs this very thing (Ephesians 1:13).
If you're not certain that you know Christ, read here.
The Bible advises in Hebrew 10:25 to meet together with other believers for mutual encouragement and understanding. Have you considered joining a group study? You also can have the benefit of wise counsel in private by using a Study Bible.
6. The Bible is full of errors.
This common misconception has been propagated by non-scholars who want to deny the Bible's authority. The Bible's margin of error is less than 1 percent, and in that small percentage the inaccuracies are a difference in minor prepositions. None of the 1 percent gives any confusion to the meaning of the text. An example would be like re-reading my previous sentence as, "None in the 1 percent gives any confusion to the meaning of the text." In fact, the more that has been discovered in history and archaeology, the more continues to prove the accuracy of the Bible, which scripture actually says of itself, "Every word of God proves true." Proverbs 30:5
7. I don't have time.
I've got a busy schedule too. I understand adding something to an already full plate is sometimes not feasible. There are audio versions of the Bible. A wise friend of mine says, "Everyone has time to read 10 minutes a day."
If you say that you can't set aside 10 minutes, then the issue isn't really a matter of time, but of desire.
8. The Bible doesn't work for me.
Have you experienced disappointment? Maybe you're feeling as if you've been let down by God? Maybe you're unemployed, lonely or suffering?
Can I tell you what words the Bible says about this very thing? If you're hurting, then God is inviting you to come to Him. If you read the Psalms, you will find people who have poured out their hearts to God, who have gone through tremendous suffering and in His presence have found hope.
Not sure how to start? Read the psalms. Start with Psalm 1 and read one each day.
9. The Bible is outdated.
The Bible spans all of human history from the creation of the world to eternity. Some are rules God gave to a specific group of people during a specific time, but that doesn't mean it's not beneficial to know.
When you read in the New Testament that "Jesus sets us free" you may ask, "Free from what?" If you read the whole thing, you will know with clarity.
Some of the stories are universal – they are meant for all people in all times, but they contain cultural nuances from when they were written. The better we understand the setting, the better we can appreciate the story.
10. I just don't want to.
You are missing out on the single most rewarding piece of humanity – your ability to connect your soul to God. Yes, we human beings can accomplish a lot on our own. We can dig deep and find strength. But there is something even richer.
Your soul ponders things like, "Is there more?” “What's the point? and “Why?" These answers are found in the Bible. Your soul longs for completion, unconditional love, and peace.
You can dismiss the Bible and say, "All I need, I can find within myself." This is the beauty of God – He gives you free choice to do that. But I'm here to tell you, the way I would tell a friend who I could look squarely in the eye and with love and certainty say to you,
THERE IS MORE.
I can't convince you to find it, but I will implore you to consider.
For more from Keri, read her blog His Story, My Song.