I was not always the best student when I was in school. There are plenty of times where I was assigned a reading, such as in English classes, and instead I just “learned about” the book. I read a bit, but more so found summaries and essays that were helpful and were ultimately shortcuts to the reading.
I could get through school easily enough like this with minor consequences, such as I was 36 when I finally read the Great Gatsby, rather than a teenager. But that sort of reading creates a bad pattern. A pattern that I think many of us can follow when it comes to the Bible. We may learn about it, while not really reading it. And we miss things.
Take for example this week’s reading from Genesis. We are doing the first five chapters, and even if you tried to read the Bible before and only got a few chapters in, you’d already have read the creation account.
But are we really reading? You’ve likely learned about it and it is even a point of controversy in and outside the church. There are arguments about creation theories and many wonder if the Bible conflicts with science. So we are familiar with the Biblical account of creation, but are we reading it? For instance, have you noticed the way that there are two creation accounts? That chapter 1 (and a bit of 2) speaks of creation one way, then chapter 2 goes over it some of it again, with a different style? Why is that? What is the purpose of these two chapters? Those are great questions to dig in as you read! What does God want us to learn from these opening chapters? Are we seeing God’s omnipotence? The goodness and beauty of creation? His purpose? Our purpose?
I don’t point this out to scold anyone for not noticing something in Scripture! Rather it is an exciting invitation to read. God’s Word is full and it is rich. It can be unexpected and comforting and challenging. Even in the familiar opening chapters of Genesis there can be a new word that God will bring to us by his Spirit.
Not to end with a contradiction to what I began with, but here are some resources to help us learn. A video introduction to Genesis and an article that tries to tease out the differences in those chapters of Genesis, just to get you thinking. I offer them not as a replacement to read, nor as something that is on par with the Bible, but as a help and invitation to read the Bible more deeply.