I love to read. Ever since I was very young, my parents would read to me. I think that’s why I love stories, and why I, eventually, became a writer.
When I was in Elementary school, I read anything and everything I could put my hands on. My earliest favorites were Sherwood Anderson, Ambrose Bierce, and Isaac Asimov. But soon I moved on to Ian Fleming, Alistair MacLean, Alan Dean Foster and Ray Bradbury.
One day, while visiting our pastor’s house, his wife noticed I was carrying a satchel of books with me and asked me an interesting question: “Have you ever read the World’s Best-Selling book?”
I stopped to consider her question and then said, “No, probably not. What is it?”
She replied: “It’s an amazing old book full of adventure, danger, love, betrayal, war and redemption.”
“Sounds cool,” I said. “What’s the title?”
Of course, she was talking about the Bible, and based on her challenge I started to read it every night before going to bed.
My routine was to lay in bed and read whatever adventure novel I was devouring at the moment and then setting that down to read at least one chapter from the Bible before I went to sleep each night.
In just over a year and a half, I had read through most of the entire Bible.
Why so quickly? Because, first of all, I often read more than just one chapter, and second of all, I skipped most of Leviticus because it was just too boring.
But that was the first time I read the Bible.
Later, as a Junior High student I started to read the Bible because I was helping our youth pastor to lead Bible Studies. As a High School student I was leading book studies in the Gospel of Luke [which I immediately regretted because each chapter was just a marathon to get through each week], and Isaiah [because things in the Middle East were heating up and everyone – including me – was convinced that the End Times were upon us].
In college I read through the Bible because I discovered a renewed love for Jesus at a Baptist Retreat Center in Glorietta, New Mexico. Some of the seminars and workshops I attended got me interested in Spiritual Warfare so I started studying that topic on my own.
Of course, as a college student with a minor in Philosophy I quickly encountered opposition to my dearly-held faith. A few of my professors really attacked Christianity and that sent me back to my Bible to find out if what they were saying about Jesus and the Scriptures was true or not. Because of this I started really getting into Apologetics, and Young Earth/Old Earth evidences and even put together a little 4 part series of lectures about Evolution and Creation.
But all through this I read and re-read my Bible. I underlined. I circled. I made notes in the margins. I stuck notes all through the Bible on folded slips of paper. I wrote references to important verses in every blank page and white space I could find.
Eventually that Disciples Study Bible I bought in college started to fall part. First the cover began to come lose. I wrapped the spine in duct tape and kept on reading it and studying it.
About five years ago I was leading a Men’s Bible Study for some guys from Saddleback Church. They took up a collection and bought me a brand new ESV Study Bible to replace my raggedy duct tape Bible, but I honestly still use that one more often because it has all my notes and I know where to find everything in it.
I love my Bible. I really do. If you tried to come over to my house and take my Bible away from me, you’d have to cut my arms off to get it out of my hands.
But, as much as I love my Bible, I love Jesus even more. A hundred thousand million times more.
See, that book told me all about this magnificent person named Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me. It pointed me to a God who would rather die than live without me. I fell in love – not with the Book which told me about Him – but with Jesus, Himself!
I’ve told you about my relationship with that Book, but I haven’t mentioned my incredible relationship with Jesus: I haven’t told you about how He revealed Himself to me; how He called me by His Spirit; how He answered my prayers; how He worked miracles in my life; how He whispered in my ear to stop me from getting shot dead by a prison sniper while performing with my band at a minimum security prison; about how He healed my Dad’s shattered spine and re-formed his vertebrae so he wouldn’t be paralyzed; about how He provided for my family financially while I was out of work for over a year and a half [the first time] and another year the time after that; about how He fulfilled His specific promises to me during that time in ways I could have never imagined; and about how He called us to start a church where 100 percent of the offering would go to help the poor in our community; and so much more.
But if I told you about those things here in this blog article and your response was only to say, “Wow! What a glorious article!” you would have missed my entire point, wouldn’t you?
Because what’s really glorious and awesome isn’t the blog or the article about what Jesus did for me. No, what’s amazing and awesome is Jesus and the article only informs you of how awesome He is.
The Bible is wonderful. I do love and appreciate my Bible so very much. But my love for Jesus is so far and away greater and more precious to me than anything else in the universe, that I can’t even begin to compare it to anything else.
Does this mean my Bible is useless? Hardly. I will use it today and tomorrow and every day for the rest of my life here on this earth. It is very useful to me.
But my relationship isn’t with a book about Jesus – it’s with Jesus, whom the book is about!
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” – Hebrews 1:1-3
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” [John 1:1-3]
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth….” [v.14]
God’s Word, at one time, was only written down on a page and bound in a book or wrapped in a scroll.
But when Jesus arrived that Word took on flesh and blood; laughed and cried; breathed and sang; taught and healed like never before.
There were some men who wrote down what they saw this Living Word do and say, but those words about that Word are not the Word. They are still words about Him, and our worship belongs to the God who is the Word – and to Him alone.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the Bible which tells of your excellent greatness. But thank you, even more, for your living presence within us that testifies day and night of your enduring love for us and causes us to cry out “Abba! Father!” and listen for your answer in the still, small voice of the Good Shepherd that every one of your sheep knows so well.