How Does It Read To You?
I am a preacher, and I confess to thinking that I’m right about all of the things that I believe and preach. Each Sunday I stand before an audience of Christians and seekers teaching those ideas.
Some of them are dangerous, life-altering ideas that divide families and radically change lives. For example, I believe the Bible teaches that divorce is only allowed when a spouse commits adultery (Matthew 19:9); that a person must be immersed in water to have their sins washed away (Acts 22:16); and that homosexuality is condemned by God (1 Corinthians 6:9).
But how does it read to you?
We preachers tend to be a convicted bunch. We have very certain views about what the Bible says and doesn’t say. Most church-going folks understand that we must be this way, and that we are just doing our job when we stand before the congregation rebuking and reproving. They understand that we have the difficult job of studying and interpreting the scriptures so that we can deliver its message to the people in the pew. And usually they are satisfied with our efforts.
But the Lord has a challenge for you. He doesn’t care what your preacher said on Sunday. He wants to know - how does it read to you?
I think the average Christian is intimidated by the Bible. Most people believe that it’s very complex and can only be really understood by theologians.
It’s like studying global warming. Most of us have no idea where to begin. We leave it for the scientists to debate, and then we choose the side that seems most consistent and honest. Otherwise, we’d have to research climate science, temperature trends, measurement techniques, the effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere and a whole host of other concepts.
But God won’t let us get away with that when it comes to the Bible. He commands us to study and interpret it ourselves.
Jesus was once asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” But instead of explaining the Bible’s answer to this question, the Lord asked, “How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26) The Lord won’t care what your preacher told you when you stand before Him on judgement day. He will wonder whether or not you interpreted and followed His Words correctly - “The Word I spoke is what will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48). He will ask, “But how did it read to you?”
Don’t be intimidated by His question. He promises that if you try, He will help. Those who truly want to understand the Bible are told, “Ask and it will be given to you. See and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). We’re also promised by the apostles, “When you read, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4). The Lord wants you to understand it, and He will work with sincere Bible students to guide them towards that understanding.
Do you really want to leave it up to us preachers to determine the will of God for your life? Do you really want to put your trust in us to get you through the most important day of your life, the day we each appear before the judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10)?
Instead, how does it read to you?