Why do you read the Bible?

Let’s say your main goal in life was to be fit and healthy. And so you turn to the Bible for some wisdom. After perusing its contents, you buy some Ezekiel Bread (Ezekiel 4:9), you drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach (1 Timothy 5:23), and you decide to become a vegetarian (Daniel 1:12).

Or let’s say that you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon, as I did in 2002. You memorize Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and repeat it throughout all twenty-six point two miles of the race. Unfortunately, you come in 18 minutes and 42 seconds slower than the qualifying time. What went wrong?

Or, according to Religion Unplugged, you will soon be able to buy a God Bless the USA Bible. They report:

In its last pages, the custom Bible pre-selling for $49.99 includes the full texts of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and pledge of allegiance. The holy book also includes licensed lyrics to the popular 1984 song bycountry music singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood, “God Bless the USA.” 

I wonder: is patriotism the right lens through which to read the Bible?

If you can’t wait for this new release, there’s already a pink/hot pink Duo-Tone Busy Mom’s Bible available for sale, that “gives you inspirational content quickly.” Or if you’re a tough man, you might prefer the Camo Bible. As advertised, a “Fashionable camo design makes it fun to carry your Bible wherever you go.” For kids, there’s a glipit Bible to help you “express your faith your way.”

The point is, there’s a strange incongruence between a cute marketing take and God’s divine revelation. Will the God Bless the USA Bible have a feature section on Philippians 3:17-20?

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

It is hard to know how this will all fit together. 

But even with a plain, old-fashioned Bible, we all bring our own stories to the Scriptures. We all have a motivation or a reason to look up a verse on the internet or flip open the Bible each morning. 

What is that reason? Why do I want to read the Bible today? 

Is it to feel superior to people who buy the God Bless the USA Bible? Hmmm…

Is it to have a smug self-satisfaction that I don’t own a glipit Bible? Hmmmmm…

Is it to ease my conscience about something I did last week? Hmmmmmmm…

We all bring a story to God’s story. 

And I hope you would agree with me that we are therefore susceptible to using God’s story to validate our story. 

As a spiritual discipline, I invite you to ask God – and a few trusted, wise friends – “Why do I want to read the Bible?”

I’d love to hear your answers — paid subscribers can comment on this post at Substack.