“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. –Romans 15:4
Appeals to the authority of scripture and reminders about the importance of studying scripture appear throughout the Bible. Many of us remember the joy and excitement of hearing Bible stories as children. But somehow over the years many of us have turned regular Bible study into a chore, an almost insurmountable challenge. I know I’m not the only one to have tried and failed to read the Bible through in a year. Every Sunday, Bible study leaders across the country ask their adult classes if they’ve studied the lesson for the day. And strong, mature adults are immediately turned into shrinking adolescents again, sheepishly admitting that they have come to class unprepared or perhaps even pretending to have studied when they haven’t.
The second commitment in our Covenant is a commitment to study the Bible once a week and to be present on Sunday for group Bible study as often as possible. Regular Bible study is important, and it shouldn’t be a chore. When the Bible talks about reading God’s word, it says we ought to read scripture enthusiastically as a blessing. Too often we approach scripture like eating our vegetables. We do it only because we know it’s good for us, and we don’t get nearly enough servings. On the other hand, when the Bible talks about reading scripture it uses words like light and life and living and active. Wonder. Encouragement. Hope. Prosperous. Success. Profitable. Delight. Holy. Truth. Treasure.
For some of us, daily Bible study is as much a part of our lives as getting dressed in the morning. For others of us, the dust on our Bibles at home tells a different story. Paul tells the Romans that the scriptures are there to encourage and provide hope, that we shouldn’t think of scripture as a chore to be checked off the list. And then Paul offers this possibility for those communities that study scripture together:
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5
Individual Bible study is important. But when we study the Bible together something happens. We start to see each other as Christ sees us. And we develop a shared understanding of who God is that allows us to speak with one voice to the glory of our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember your Covenant commitments. Remember to study your Bibles. Remember to do it together.