The Bible is without a doubt the most important book (well, collection of books) that a Christian, or someone interested in Christianity, can ever read. Bar nothing. However literally you choose to interpret it, and this isn’t the place to go into that now, the fact is that the writers of the words on those pages claimed to know something about God and to have the authority to teach it.
Nothing is there by accident and there is certainly nothing there to be embarrassed about. It’s not always easy to understand, but it’s worth grappling with. True, sometimes it seems impossible to work something out in your head, a problem seems to arise that you need to solve. In a collection of books written over a time period spanning millennia, the most recent of which was still written around 2000 years ago from today, 21st century readers are going to encounter difficulties.
At the same time, there are passages in there that speak so clearly and profoundly to the core of who we are that they don’t need careful study and analysis because in the moment those words are exactly what we needed at that time, and it’s in those moments that I find that I hear the voice of God more clearly than any other.
As a Christian I believe that the Bible is God’s word written down for us. If you’re struggling to hear God’s word then the Bible will inevitably help you to get some clarity. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve gone into the Bible praying that God will show me what He needs me to see and He’s done it. And sometimes it’s some of those passages that God showed you a long time ago that He continues to speak through; Philippians 4:6-8 is one of those for me.
I guess the hard thing is that if you haven’t experienced God working through the Bible in this way you might be struggling to believe what I’m writing. It’s something that when it happens, it’s amazing and you know it, but if you haven’t experienced it you be sceptical. The starting place is actually reading the Bible regularly for yourself, and getting used to the kind of thing God wants to say. You need to read it humbly, accepting that God may challenge you and change you with some things, and you need to read it asking God to help you, otherwise you’re never going to get it.
Maybe you’re someone who already reads the Bible regularly; if you are, that’s awesome! Keep it up. But if you’re not reading it regularly, even though you want to hear from God, then I would strongly encourage you to pick it up again, or, if you don’t own a Bible, use something like biblegateway.com until you do find one.
I just want to finish by including a passage from the Bible which I absolutely love. It’s an example of the kind of thing God might want to say to you, and I’m putting it here so that even if you’re struggling with reading the Bible, in reading this you’ll have a chance to hear God’s voice today.
‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.’ (Philippians 2:5-16)