We as Christians, aka followers of Christ, should always read the Bible. Why? Because the Bible is a guidebook for humans. But how to read the bible that is good and right?
As I mentioned above, the Bible is a manual for humans. Like the manual, we are told how to use the product and optimize the features in it.
So as humans, we cannot just “operate” ourselves.
Indeed, there are some things that seem to be automatically used immediately. Like the iPhone example. We know that we can use the iPhone to call other people. But I just learned that the iPhone calculator can use the swipe feature to the left or right to erase a wrong digit.
Likewise with humans. We know that we have to do good but there are some features that we might not know about. The only way is to look at a human manual, the Bible.
How to Read the Good and Correct Bible
Our manuals, the Bible, cannot be read haphazardly. So here are some tips that can help you to understand the Bible properly and correctly.
1. Have a Heart That Wants to Learn.
I need to emphasize this point. A heart that wants to learn is a heart that wants to be changed. I’m not saying the brain or the way to think, yeah. But HEART.
If we persevere, even reading the Bible a thousand times will be of no use. Soften the heart. Listen to the advice given by the Bible. God wants to talk to you.
Just like a father who wants to talk to his children, so does God. God wants to chat with you. Not only you who talk (read: pray) to God but God also wants to reply to your comments. God wants to laugh with you. God also wants to cry with you.
2. Have several versions of the Bible
How many Bibles do you have? This is a question that sounds ridiculous. Do I need a lot of Bible? One is difficult to read especially much.
That was my argument some time ago. But the question of how many Bibles you have, is a very important question. Especially if you want to read the Bible in a way that is good and right.
Why is that? Because the Bible has several versions. Indonesia itself has several versions. I am sure you have a New Translation of the Bible (1974). This version is the most sold and produced by the Indonesian Bible Society.
I also have a Bible version of BIS (Everyday Indonesian) and FAYH (The Word of the Living God).
For the English language, I have the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New International Version, the English Standard Version, The Message, the New Living Translation, and a few more.
Each version of the Bible will take a different approach. You can read about the best version of the Bible you can have.
It is very good to understand the Bible from various perspectives. This will make us see the whole Bible.
3. Determine the Time to Read the Bible
This is a pretty difficult step for me. Busyness (a very cliche reason) makes me only have a little time left.
Until one day I am reminded, why do you leave time for God? Why don’t you make time for God?
The difference is that leaving time and making time turn out to be very significant.
When I leave time for God, usually what remains is time before going to sleep. When I have spent my whole day with other activities. Activities that I consider far more important than reading the Bible.
That is why I am very reluctant to read the Bible. I was tired. I wanted to sleep but still had to do my duty to read the Bible. The result? I often fall asleep while reading the Bible. Even worse, at the opening prayer I was asleep.
So let’s set a time for God. I do not forbid you to read the Bible at night before going to sleep. The main thing is the attitude of the heart when we determine the time. If the heart already says this is leftover, then our hearts are not excited.
Many would recommend reading the Bible in the morning. Before we start our various activities on the day. I would not recommend that.
What I’m suggesting is SET TIME. May be in the morning. May at noon. May at night too. God is not limited by time. What God wants is that you make time to talk with Him.
4. Have a Bible Reading Guide (Devotional Book)
I love reading Our Daily Bread or in Indonesia it is Spiritual Food. This devotional book has helped me to understand the Bible for years.
Devotional books can help you to understand perspectives that you never expected. I like being shocked by the “reprimands” in the devotional book. Or background why a verse can be written.
On the other hand, reading various books from responsible Christian writers can add insight too.
5. Critical Thinking
This is very very very important. I always question someone’s opinion. For me, the Bible is always true. Humans can be wrong.
Humans can misinterpret a verse. Humans can abuse verses.
We will see from the story of the trial of Jesus. All fact witnesses cannot point out Jesus’ mistakes. Pilate as a judge was also confused. He washed his hands.
All the scribes and scholars gathered together only to judge Jesus. What did Jesus do to deserve punishment? Calling the police is actually not allowed. There is no violation of the law.
But according to the interpretations of the scribes and scholars, Jesus is considered to be insulting religion. Jesus identified himself with God. This is the biggest insult. Worth being stoned to death.
The scribes and the scholars do not want their hands dirty and indeed they also do not dare to carry out their own punishment. They were afraid of Roman rulers. If there was mass stoning it could be considered a coup attempt by the Romans. That’s why they brought Jesus to court.
Unfortunately the court could not find fault with Jesus. The masses also urged and shouted so that Jesus was crucified aka executed. Crazy right? For the sake of self-interest and power, the scribes and scholars succeeded in making the masses blind in their hearts and minds.
Jesus’ trial incident made me study critically. I continue to honor pastors who have answered God’s call to harvest crops. But I will not deify them. The priest is still human. Humans can make mistakes.
I was not immune from mistakes. That’s why I want to think critically and humble myself. Accept if my thinking is wrong and correct it. Barking if I find a fatal misinterpretation.