by Rob Tims
Several weeks ago, I spilled a 20 oz. cup of coffee into the front passenger seat of my car. I still haven’t cleaned it up, and the list of excuses for not doing so is long but limp. I’m too busy. I get distracted. I like the smell. There are truly NO excuses, but I use them anyway to justify my procrastination.
It’s been a little while since I simply sat down to read my Bible for no other purpose than to enjoy it. I read it every day for work and my teaching responsibilities, but just for me? It’s been a little while. I’ve lots of excuses, and I know I’m not alone. See if any of these resonate with you.
1. Overwhelmed. The Bible is a lengthy compilation of a variety of literary types written over thousands of years in three ancient languages. Most are well over 1,000 pages long. Could it be that the thought of reading something so long and foreign is overwhelming to many?
2. Irrelevance. A lot has happened over the last 2,000 years since the Bible was finished. Can the Bible really speak to the contemporary issues our world is dealing with like terrorism, evolution, and human cloning?
3. Belief. When read and obeyed, the Bible promises to do some pretty radical stuff in our lives, which means one thing many dread: change. The Bible promises to “make us realize what is wrong in our lives” and “teach us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16). It “exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12). Those are pretty invasive things, and we may not read the Bible because we believe it will actually do what it promises.
4. Disbelief. The Bible also promises God will do things in us and for us in ways that sound too good to be true. Maybe we don’t read the Bible because we don’t believe God will do what the Bible says He will do.
5. Sola Boot Strapa. “Sola Boot Strapa” is a made-up Latin phrase my preaching professor shared with me years ago. It’s a reference to the pride we all have in our own abilities. When we face trials, we almost always try to “pick ourselves up by our boot straps.” Why would we turn to an incredibly ancient, hard-to-read compilation of books and letters when we’re convinced we can handle life just fine on our own?
6. First things first. Everybody is busy. When I think through the responsibilities, expectations, and demands I face with my four jobs and four kids, I throw up a little in my mouth. Who has time to read an archaic book when the basic demands of life are overwhelming as it is?
7. Overexposure. One of the more disconcerting reasons we don’t read our Bibles is because we think we already know it. What else could we possibly need to know that we didn’t learn earlier in life or get exposed to in corporate worship week to week?
8. Dissatisfaction. We live in an experiential age. It seems that if we are to regard anything as true, we have to experience it personally. Bible reading rubs against this cultural preference. Reading is old fashioned, and when it comes to the Bible, we don’t choose what will form us, how it will form us, and when; rather, God use the Bible to form us on His own terms.
Do any of these strike a chord? Probably so, and that’s why I’m grateful that God’s meets me where I am and invites me to return time and again to His Word. There is, after all, no excuse.
Now if you’ll excuse, I’ve a car seat to clean.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.