What the Bible Does to You
We played Bible Trivia at Family Dinner. It wasn’t as nerdy as it sounds but it did happen… and no, it wasn’t my idea. My youngest was shopping for clothes at a thrift store when he and his buddies found something akin to Trivial Pursuit for Christians. He brought the game to Family Dinner and we took turns asking and answering questions. Some were very easy (How did Jesus die?), and some… not so much (What canal was Ezekiel near when he received his first vision?).
Bible Trivia rewards those who’ve read the Bible and have a good memory. It’s about the mind not the heart. You could win the game but be far from God.
Christians shouldn’t read the Bible primarily for information but transformation. Now, primarily because you can’t be transformed by something you are unfamiliar with, information precedes transformation. But God is after more than your mind. He’s after your whole life.
My guess is that Satan would beat any of us in Bible Trivia. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Satan knows the Bible better than you. He quotes from Deuteronomy when he’s tempting Jesus in the desert and his demons have lots of accurate information about Jesus. But they didn’t know him.
Why you read the Bible is almost as important as whether you read the Bible in the first place. If you read the Bible only to know information, you might miss knowing Jesus.
The Goal of Bible Reading Is Transformation (Not Information)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
To be conformed means to be shaped by an outside pressure. Jell-O conforms to the shape of its container. Employees must conform to their company’s rules. They don’t have to like the rules, but they do need to know them and follow them.
Transformation is change that moves from the inside out. Behind transform is the Greek word “metamorphoo,” which, of course, is where we get the English word metamorphosis. Like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, Jesus wants to transform your life into something new and beautiful.
What we fill our mind with will shape our thoughts, words, values, and actions. Transformation is fueled by renewing our mind with biblical truth. If we listen to Jesus by reading the Bible, meditating on a verse, listening to sermons, singing worship song—in short, if we fill our mind with truth, then we will become more like Jesus.
Before and After: “Are We There Yet?”
But while it only takes 3 weeks for a caterpillar to be transformed into a butterfly. Christlike transformation is a lifelong process requiring patience and perseverance.
Before and after is a powerful sales pitch. Laundry detergents sell themselves on being able to get out terrible stains and return your clothes to looking new—the starker the contrast, the better the ad. Incremental change doesn’t grab our attention in the same way. Losing 5 pounds doesn’t get you on the Biggest Loser and painting a bedroom doesn’t qualify as an Extreme Home Makeover. The more dramatic the change the more powerful the story.
What about the before and after of following Jesus?
We’d like to say the transformation is quick and dramatic. We want a shocking story of how we now live like Jesus. But that’s not how it works, is it? When we become Christians, the transformation isn’t as quick and dramatic as we’d like. Our spiritual growth isn’t as impressive as we wish it was. Some things might change quickly but most things take a long time.
Don’t Give Up Too Quickly
I don’t know much about art other than I’m in awe of those who can produce it. Georges Seurat was a French artist in the 1800s. You’ve probably at least seen his most well-known painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
What you might not know, or at least I didn’t know from looking at it, is that the painting is thousands and thousands of little dots. The style, developed by Seurat, is called pointillism. If you zoom in enough on a section, you can start to see each individual dot.
Now imagine you are Seurat’s friend, and you walk into his studio not long after he’d begun the work. All you would see is disconnected dots. The artist had the final vision in his mind but no one else was privy to that information. Over the 2 years Seurat worked on this piece, the scene came into focus so that everyone could behold its beauty.
Every time you read your Bible (or pray, or obey God, or serve, or attend worship) you place a dot on the canvas of your life. To you, the dots look disconnected and probably even insignificant. You might even want to give up and quit. Is it worth continuing to read your Bible when there’s so little transformation is taking place?
But God, the artist, has the final vision in his mind. It will take thousands of dots and your whole life to complete but he’s creating a masterpiece.
Looking for a practical way to know your Bible better in 2023? Learn more about the new TMBT Bible Reading Plan and how it can help your heart transformation this year.