Never before have we been so alone. That seems impossible in a world of email, Smartphones, and Facebook. But while technology and mobility connect us to more people than at any other time in history, they have actually made us more isolated, not less.
Most Americans now manage thirty different social networks—different spheres of relationship—like work, their children’s schools and sporting events, other hobbies, church. But usually the only common denominator between all of these relationships is the individual (i.e., the people at your work don’t know the people at your church, who don’t know the parents at your child’s school, etc.).
In other words, our relationships are disconnected, leaving the average person frantically moving from one set of relationships to the next. We are literally living our lives in little pieces. When it comes to others, we know and are known in about 5% increments.
So what’s wrong with that? And what does that have to do with Bible reading?
Hebrews 3:12-13 gives us both a solemn warning and a surprising solution. We are instructed to take care against a slide into unbelief and hardness of heart. But care looks like this: daily exhortations from others based on the truth of God to challenge the deceitfulness of personal sin.
Here’s the revolutionary concept. The truth of God’s Word must be applied in relationship with others; without their input, I will become hardened to the truth and deceived in my thinking. It’s a startling thought, but if you’re only applying the Bible by yourself, you’re walking a path toward spiritual ruin.
Glenn Schinzel discovered how transformational reading the Bible can be when combined with spiritual friendship and accountability. For 23 years after he became a Christian, Glenn struggled with maintaining a vibrant devotional life. But two years ago, everything changed. Glenn asked a friend to join him for thirty days in a Bible reading experiment.
Their plan was simple. They would each read the same chapter of the Bible every morning and then call each other for twenty minutes to discuss what they had learned and how they would apply the text to their lives.
“That was 928 days ago!” says Glenn. “We have hardly missed a day since. It’s been one of the most powerful experiences of my Christian life. For the first time, the Scripture has come to life. Just having input and encouragement from a Christian brother about God’s Word on a daily basis has changed both of our lives.”
The Bible was meant to be received and understood in community. Before the advent of the printing press and widespread literacy, first-century Christians would excitedly gather to hear portions of Scripture read. One can only imagine the flurry of comments, the passionate interaction, and the ongoing conversations that occurred as the Scriptures were processed, memorized, and spread like wildfire.
I treasure my personal copy of the Scriptures, and I thank God for the sacrifices saints have made through the centuries to make it available to all of us. But I wonder if the privilege of owning a copy of the Bible has caused us to neglect our fundamental need of others to understand and apply God’s Word.
Here’s to the rediscovery of an ancient spiritual truth: The key to good Bible reading is others.
Copyright © 2009 Revive magazine, Vol. 40, #3 “Bible Boredom,” by Life Action Ministries.