Ingesting Scripture: The First Letter from John

by Jonathan Bailey

It seems to me, most folk sit down and read their Bibles like they floss their teeth. Maybe once or twice a month and we don’t like to do it very long.  We get in and we get out! I personally rarely floss. However, flossing is apparently one of the best things we can do for our teeth and gums, and yet for the most part it’s often ignored, rarely done or at best loosely managed. Flossing always feels like an interruption. I never plan for flossing; I never get excited about it. And when I finally floss, I do it as fast as possible.

I don’t want to over generalize about this, but maybe it’s true that most people feel this way when they try reading and studying Scripture. “I never really get excited about it.” “When I open the Bible I try to finish my reading as fast as possible.” “I know that it is good for me, but it’s boring.” On and on it goes. One reason for this, I believe, is we “dive-bomb” Scripture. We get in and we get out. Generally most people are not looking to read more than a chapter or perhaps a handful of verses in a sitting. Maybe you’re trying the philosophy of reading a Psalm and Proverb a day, or a Gospel chapter and an Epistle chapter a day. Either way we never get plugged into the story of Scripture. The Bible is not just a Holy dictionary that we look into whenever we need some truth. The Bible is a Holy story of real people, living in real towns and villages, facing real problems, and pursuing a real Jesus. When we come to the Bible we want to get lost in the story. We want to know every detail of the towns and villages, the problems these first-century followers were encountering, the back story of all of the characters, etc. This will plant us firmly in Scripture, and once we’re there it’s not just about pulling out some truth, but finding people and problems we can identify with. We live our story in light of theirs. We see ourselves, not detached from them, but linked by the same life, the eternal life, Jesus’ life.

Ok, so what is the experiment you ask? A little something I like to call: Ingesting Scripture.

Experiment 006: Ingesting Scripture: The First Letter from John

What I propose this week is that we make time for Scripture. Not just try to squeeze some Bible time in our busy days, but chisel out some room for studying the Scripture. Remember, “Our practice of spiritual disciplines is kept on course by our emersion in Scripture 1.” We need to get lost in the story. Get to know the characters. Walk around their towns and villages, etc. Once you have carved out some time, you want to open your Bible to the First letter of John. Now, I want you to read the entire letter in one sitting. Remember, no dive-bombing. This will help you get acquainted with the story. As you read you want to take notes, underline, star, and journal. There is nothing un-holy about marking in your Bible. When you read, it should be a very active process. You want to tear this letter apart. Ask questions like, “What does that mean?” or “Why would he say that?” or “Who is he talking about?” or “How do I do that?” etc.  After reading it you may want to journal about what it means to you, or write out a prayer to Jesus about how the letter has affected you. 

Things you can specifically look for within the letter that I think are cool are:

-The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5)
-The Great Commission (Matt 28)

This is a Jesus letter through-and-through. It’s an amazing commentary on the thought and teaching of Jesus. So, when you read always be thinking about Jesus. This post has gotten too long. I am sorry. I hope that you enjoy this week’s experiment and look at scripture in a whole new light! It will be better than flossing I promise!

Keep Seeking the Kingdom at all Costs,

1 Dallas Willard, or Lee Camp. I cannot remember who said it or where I found it.