We’re coming to the final few chapters of the bible read-through. I’m now wondering how many of the 70 or so people who originally signed up are still with us at the end… I had hoped at the start to be able to offer much more support and encouragement than I was able to give. If there was a lack of a support infrastructure this time around, then please accept my apologies if I made promises that I couldn’t deliver on. The very discipline of reading 2 chapters a day was a sufficient challenge to me as it was! If you didn’t manage to keep up, don’t worry. Tomorrow is a new day, and 2012 is a new year, and God’s love and mercies are new every morning. The treasures of his word are still there to be explored!
If you did manage to keep up, even with a few sections missing, congratulations to you! I am very pleased for you. The reward is in the reading, of course, and in building up a surer knowledge of the glorious character of God, that we can strengthen our faith and resolve. Milestones are useful though, to reflect on the nature of our trajectory as Christians, and our ultimate goal. How are we different now from two years ago? How has God changed us?
For me, the milestone is an opportunity to reflect on the value I have got from the reading: a regular daily tool in anchoring my thoughts and actions in the word of God. At the same time, I realise that I’ve got even more out of the read-through than the first time I did it, and it has inspired in me a renewed respect for the awesome depths of the scriptures. The more I read the bible, the more I see its supernatural unity. It is no work of mere human imagination, and realising this strengthens my reverence and trust in its words.
But I remember too that my reverence for it is still far less than it ought to be, and what I claim in principle (that these are the very words of God) I am slow to demonstrate in practice. There is far less unity between what I profess and what my actions show that I actually believe. “I believe, help my unbelief“. I am reminded of my own lack of discipline, knowledge and wisdom, and my tendency to wander headlong towards many kinds of sin, pride, laziness and ignorance… All this is held in check and transformed only by the grace of God, through the work of the Holy Spirit.
If reading the bible does not cause us to lose faith in ourselves and place it on God, then we have not understood its purpose. The inevitable (self?) satisfaction we have at reaching the end point should hopefully be balanced with an awareness of the nature and distance of the spiritual journey stretching out in front of us…
In all these things, I am satisfied, though, when I remember that my success doesn’t depend on my own achievements or abilities, but on Christ, who has done so much for all of us. Christ, who he is, what he has done, is doing, and will do: this is the gospel. The critical, important news of Jesus Christ, affecting everyone, and offering a unique and unparalleled hope to all who respond to it.
For 2012, may our focus be on the glorious gospel of Christ: the gospel is the hope, anchor, power and joy of His church. Let us joyfully continue to strive together, in God’s power, and not our own, to facilitate the glorious transformation that God is already working in us.
P.S.In the next few days I hope to post up plans for what begins in January 2012…stay tuned!