In case you weren’t aware, there are A LOT of books on the market. And in case you weren’t aware, there are A LOT of Christian books on the market. And I mean A LOT (which is why I keep putting A LOT in all caps). There are books about theology, evangelism, raising godly kids, Church history, Christian-themed cookbooks, books about God, books about Jesus, books about the Holy Spirit, books about the apostles, David, Paul, Mary… I could go on, and on (and on), but you get the idea (in case you didn’t already have it).
Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve read quite a few books this year: Authors like Phillip Yancey, John MacArthur, Beth Moore, and Kelly Minter, to name a few. And I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned more about who God is, who I am, who Jesus is, what the church is, who Esther was, who Ruth was. I’ve learned about prayer, world religions, Christian denominations, various theological approaches, and, thanks to Donald Miller, how Romeo and Juliet is really the story of Mankind and God. (Where was he when I was in high school trying to figure that out?)
Needless to say, I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge, I’ve changed the way I think about some things, I’ve confirmed the way I think about some things and I’ve decided that there are some things I just will never care about.
But today, I came to a potentially scary revelation: I’ve read a lot of books about the Bible, but do you know what I haven’t read a lot of lately? The Bible. Sure, I’ve done my daily reading (well, ok, semi-daily) and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the Bible, but if I add up how much time I’ve spent reading about the Bible and compare it with how much time I’ve spent actually reading the Bible itself, it’s a pretty shameful comparison.
I can’t say that I haven’t grown in my faith through all of my reading of outside sources – I definitely have. But I have to wonder if God is pleased with my reading habits of late? I really don’t know. He may be perfectly fine with the amount of time I’ve spent in His Word vs. the amount of time I’ve spent reading about His Word. But I have to think that this thought has popped into my head for a reason.
This reminds me of a quote by T.S. Elliot”
We had the experience, but missed the meaning.
Granted, Elliot was not talking about my Bible reading habits or the lack thereof, but the sentiment still rings true somehow. It’s like I’ve exchanged a valuable painting for a brochure about the valuable painting. Yes, the brochure gives me information that I probably wouldn’t pick up on own if I were to just stand there and stare at an incredible work of art. But the brochure is worthless if I don’t own the painting itself. In the same way, all the books I’ve been reading have given me information and ideas that I’d probably never come up with on my own and there is great value in that. But if all I do is read the “brochures”, I think I’ve missed the point.
Do you think God cares how much we read the actual Bible if we’re still learning and growing from other sources?