In late April, GQ Magazine published a seemingly innocuous list of 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read, as compiled by the magazine’s editors.
In a bit of a shock (or perhaps not so much), the Bible was unapologetically placed on the list. Reasons for the surprise placement included that it is “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
Frustration and outrage are typically the initial reactions to this type of statement. They’re also the easiest ones, as fellow radio host Brant Hansen explains in his brilliant book Unoffendable. He reminds us that “…Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting.”
Honestly, I’m not all that concerned or offended by the GQ list. It’s not that I don’t disagree with their treatment of the Bible – it’s that I don’t expect anything different.
Why would I expect those who aren’t following Jesus to think following Jesus is important? (Not to mention they also listed Lord of the Rings as non-essential, and by Helm’s Deep, we know that’s just silly.)
I think Jesse Carey of Relevant (and the inspiration for this blog) responded brilliantly: “If Christians demand that culture still views the Bible as a relevant book, it’s first their responsibility to actually act like it is”
You see, what concerns me more than if a magazine thinks the Bible is necessary is whether or not I do.
It’s far easier to become angry and rise up to defend the Bible; it’s much harder to look at my life and see if I’m living according to it.
Does my life show that the Bible matters to me, or am I just talking like it does?
If you struggle with making God’s Word a priority, here are three ways that I’m trying to make the Bible actually matter more in my life. Maybe you’ll join me?
1. Reading the Bible
Bet you didn’t see that one coming! But in actuality, it can be difficult to build a habit out of studying God’s Word. It takes time and discipline – two things that I often don’t put in the work to have. One thing that has really helped me has been downloading the Bible App and using the read-aloud feature. That allows me to listen to the Bible while getting ready in the morning. A huge blessing, especially if you’re constantly on the go!
2. Praying the Bible
This is particularly helpful when going through books like Psalms, but can be applied across the board. Walking through a passage and praying through it – “giving God’s words back to Him,” it’s been said – is not only a great way to meditate on Scripture, but has always helped my prayer life as well. I can get easily distracted when I try to pray or meditate; this keeps my mind from drifting and helps me align my heart with God’s.
3. Community and the Bible
You and I weren’t created to engage with the Bible in a vacuum. It’s vital to bring family, friends, and your church community around you and dig into the Word together. Not only does communal study keep you from misinterpreting Scripture, it can answer questions, give guidance, and help you apply what you’ve learned. In my experience, I’ve found community groups during the week to be a place where I’ve seen myself spiritually grow the most.
Expecting non-believers to have the same values as believers is a disappointing game.
Those not yet following Jesus will never be convinced the Bible matters by facing outrage and backlash. What will make a difference is Christians who live out what they claim to believe.
Like Jesus says in John 13, “By this will all men know that you are My disciples: by your love for one another.”