Until a few years ago I’d never read the Bible start to finish. I had always wanted to, but it was so hard to understand! The Old Testament in particular is filled with fantastical and sometimes scandalous stories. What was I supposed to be getting from that?
When you grow up in church you are slowly introduced to Bible stories. The stories are broken down into their most basic versions to teach us simple principles. Adam and Eve committed the first sin and were removed from the Garden of Eden. Noah built a boat to save his family and the animals from God’s flooding of the Earth. Jonah was swallowed by a whale when he tried to run away and disobey God but he was given a second chance.
We can know these stories so well that it’s easy to start thinking of them like fables or fairy tales. But this discounts their real value. While this is a good place to start, it was never meant to be an endpoint. As we grow spiritually the Bible grows with us. God begins to reveal new meanings, keeping the Bible relevant and applicable in our daily lives.
It takes time for spiritual growth, the process can’t be rushed. This is why the Bible should be read continually. The scripture will only be opened when we are ready.
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.1 Corinthians 3:2
It’s easy to become impatient. We may question why God gave us his word without providing full understanding. But this is true of any concept we learn. We don’t teach Calculus in the first grade, we teach basic addition. As we grow and understand more we are able to build on our existing knowledge. But as we draw nearer to the the Lord he draws nearer to us. He helps us to grow and increases our understanding.
The Old Testament is important. It tells us about our history, God’s design and law, our human nature, and our need for grace. But this is not the best place to start for new Christians. If you are looking for a place to start begin with the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They share first hand accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. They share his teaching, his purpose, and what it means for us. What better source of information than Jesus’s own words? Continue through the New Testament as the early Christian church develops and faces the struggles of living in a world that doesn’t share their beliefs. Many of their struggles are just as applicable today.
If you are looking to continue your spiritual growth I highly recommend the NIV Life Application Study Bible. This aided me in my first complete reading. The insight shared made each story feel fresh and each passage more meaningful. Regardless of where you are in your spiritual walk, the Bible helps us remain connected to God. If we don’t maintain this connection we can’t continue to grow.