Imagine what would happen if students all over the world decided to dedicate time, effort and diligence to studying the Bible.
Jen Wilkin presented this question to parents and youth workers on Christianity Today:
What if we gave students the Bible and expected them to learn it? What if we asked them to read it like a book – to apply the same skills they are learning in their English class to their sacred text? … What if we asked them to learn to rightly divide the Word with all the discipline they would apply to learning calculus or the violin or gymnastics?
The scripture has guided my choice of work, strengthened my friendships, united my family, supplied joy beyond measure, instilled hope in the midst of depression and replaced fear with unwavering confidence. In short studying the Bible has radically transformed my life.
Inevitably at this point someone will object. “I understand that Bible study is important but I just don’t have time.”
As Brett Harris has wisely taught, we always have time for our priorities. Transforming my excuse from “I don’t have time to study the Bible” to “Studying the Bible isn’t a priority” has changed how I think about Bible study.
Is growing in your relationship with Christ a priority? If so, you need to study the Bible as this is how a Christian grows. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” (2 Peter 2:2, emphasis added)
Interestingly, students don’t hesitate to pour time, hard work, patience, and practice into other things they think are important, even if it’s hard. Just take a look at students’ habits in regard to competitive sports, music lessons, chemistry exams, artwork, or video games. But when it comes to studying the Bible, we feel it should be easy, exciting, and effortless. When that’s not the case, we quickly conclude that we just aren’t able to understand scripture or don’t have enough time to try.
What would happen if we changed our mindset when we came to God’s Word? If we decided that the Bible is worth our time and effort, and determined to grow in our relationship with God?What would happen if we decided that the Bible is worth our time and effort? Click To Tweet
For all who are ready to find out, here are three steps to get started.
1. Read the Bible for yourself
Try reading the Bible like it’s a book. You don’t pick up a book and read a little bit from chapter 25, go back and read chapter 3, then skip over to chapter 12. You start at the beginning and read all of it.
If you’ve never read the Bible from cover to cover, start now. An excellent way to get through the entire Bible is to start a Bible reading plan. You can find lots of good ones online. I recommend looking for a plan that will take you through the entire Bible in one year. Breaking the reading up into a year should only take about 15 minutes each day!
However you choose to do it, start reading the Bible.
2. Apply the skills you’re learning in English to the scriptures
This is called Bible study. You’re already learning how to pull out major themes, summarize, outline, and identify subjects and verbs in English class. Students, you’ve already been taught how to study. Start applying those skills to the scripture.Students, you’ve already been taught how to study. Start applying those skills to the scripture. Click To Tweet
Rather than coming to the Bible with the attitude of “I’ve finished my school work, now I’m turning off my brain while I read my Bible,” come with an attitude that says, “I’m learning to outline and summarize in school, so that I can better study the Bible.”
3. Be as diligent in your study of Scripture as you are with sports, video games, algebra, or music
Imagine a pianist who has diligently practiced for years. The once funny marks on the paper are now easily interpreted, the once stiff fingers now fly with precision, the once painstaking practice has become enjoyable music making.
The same thing happens when we diligently study the Bible. We learn how to make sense of confusing texts, how to easily identify main themes, and actually begin to love sitting down with the Bible.
But it’s not the outcome of 5 minutes of random reading a day.
Your skill at basketball, your A+ on Algebra, your high score on your video game all came as the product of diligence, practice and hard work. So with the Word of God. You will only learn and enjoy as you invest diligence, practice and hard work.
Will you rise to the Challenge?
Not many people expect you to do this. In fact, they might think understanding the scripture is too difficult a task for you, a student, to undertake. In response to these protests Wilkin said,
“I agree that teens won’t rise to an expectation that we have not set. Not all students will rush to the challenge of a higher bar of discipleship, but [some are] ready to grow deeper.”
Are you one of them?
Editor’s Note: this article was previously published in 2018