I am writing to invite you to join a number of us on an edifying joint venture this summer. We began the Bible Reading Challenge a couple years ago, and it has enjoyed some remarkable successes thus far. According to numerous reports that we have received, it has been a transformative exercise, and this coming June 3 we are starting it over again. This particular iteration of the BRC is to read through the New Testament this summer, and if all goes well, we hope to have about 20,000 people involved in it together.
If I have your attention now, here is a link.
The idea is a simple one. Get a number of people to join you in reading through the New Testament. We go at a decent clip, but not a furious one. There are catch-up days built into the schedule, we take Sundays off, and the whole enterprise is approached in a spirit of get to, not got to. This is not to minimize the fact that we have a duty to be in the Word, but rather to teach and model a different approach to how we approach our duties.
A number of helps are available as well. If you browse around in the link above, you can see that there are several apps available that include our schedule (YouVersion and Olive Tree), there are separate Facebook groups for men and women, there are schedules that can be printed out, there are reading plans available in multiple languages, and so on. But the biggest help is that you are involved in something genuinely valuable, and you are involved in it with thousands of other Christians.
Christians from many different traditions have gotten involved in this, and, as we like to put it, although there are many places where we differ, we are all literally on the same page.
As you do this, one of the things you will quickly discover is that discussing the Word with your friends becomes a much more natural thing to do. If you both know that you both saw the same movie, it is likely that you will discuss it. And if you both know that you read the first half of Romans this morning, that subject is likely to come up. It comes up naturally, and without being forced.
So this is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to discover (or to rediscover) that all the truisms that you learned back in Sunday School are . . . actually kind of true. Having God’s Word hidden in your heart does help with temptations to sin against God (Ps. 119:11). Resorting to the Word on a regular basis does help you fellowship with other believers (Mal. 3:16). Feeding on the Word does nourish and strengthen you (1 Pet. 2:2).
And so last, I would like to conclude with something of an urgent invitation. If you are a regular reader of this blog (and why wouldn’t you be, right?), you are regularly reminded of what a dog’s breakfast our culture has become. It is likely that you often feel frustrated because you want to do something about it. The folly is so great, the blindness so profound, the insanity so pervasive . . . what can we do? It is a question that has occurred to many saints before this.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).
The answer should be straightforward. When the foundations are destroyed, we should set to work in rebuilding the foundations. So read your Bibles.
A revival of Bible reading among the people of God is exactly what our generation needs and requires. But too often we are like Naaman the Syrian, who was frustrated that Elisha told him to do nothing more than to go wash in the Jordan. He was prepared to do great things, and what he was asked to do did not seem to fit the occasion, or his own sense of his own importance.
If you feel like you are just one cell in the body of Christ, then don’t draw a false conclusion. That one cell needs nourishment, just like all the other cells do. Join us. And if your position in the body is one of greater influence (if you are a pastor, or chair of a ladies’ fellowship, or you have a blog, or even a bigger platform), then use that position to invite others to join us. Let the people know. Reformation is not going to happen without something like this, and our Bibles are all within reach. This is something we can do.
At the same time, we know that the fire won’t fall apart from the sovereign will of our sovereign God. But we also know that while we are prayerfully waiting for the fire to fall, we should have the wood cut, split, and arranged on the altar. The priests of Baal need to be routed. And we should also know that they won’t be routed so long as God’s people are saying things like, “But I don’t know anything about the town of Baal.”
So June 3 is just a few weeks away. Join us. Pick up your New Testament together with us, and simply read. Let us see what God will do with it.