For over 100 years now, churches have trained their members to miss the big picture of the Bible. How? By teaching Christians to read snippets rather than chunks. Visit the worship service of almost any church in the US and you’ll notice something about the sermon: it’s usually built around 3 – 7 verses.
See, pastors have been trained by seminaries to focus on details. Break everything into smaller and smaller pieces and when you get to a little snippet, tear it apart even more and highlight all the teeny, intricate details abounding in the passage. Well, with 30 – 45 minutes to preach, you can only really tackle a few short verses if you intend to preach the intricate details. Pastors have done this so often that Christians assume the natural way of reading the Bible is 3 – 7 verses at a time.
The problem with this is that you can’t see the big picture in 3 – 7 verses. A good speaker will summarize the context of a verse and present in a few sentences what the bigger picture is, but we still tend to think that normal Bible reading happens in snippets.
What I want to suggest is that you read in chunks rather than snippets. Now this requires practice and discipline at first. You need to train your brain to handle larger pieces of content, and that takes a little time. But the payoff is a big one. Reading larger chunks of Scripture allows you to glimpse God’s story in a way you’ve never really experienced by reading a few verses at a time. It reminds you that you’re not really the point of the Bible; God is. You’re not really the point of the Universe; God is.
Getting a bigger glimpse of God forces us to realize how small we are. And then we remember that in spite of the insignificance of our lives, God knows and loves us personally. In spite of our failures, we are made in the image of a measureless God. In spite of our rebellion, God came to save us. And in spite of our struggles, God is in control, working all things to achieve His purposes and bring about His Kingdom, which is quite literally Heaven-on-Earth.
Assignment: Pick a shorter book of the New Testament (i.e., Philippians, James, 1 John, 1 Peter, etc) and read the entire book in one sitting. Repeat this every day for a week. Journal what the Holy Spirit inspires in you each day as you read.