In pastoring, in discipling, I’ve heard it more than I care to count. When exhorting a fellow spiritual journeyman to “Take up and read” the Bible as part of a regular discipline of growth in the Spirit, I will sometimes get this excuse: “I’m not much of a reader.”

“I don’t read,” these folks are saying. “I don’t really read anything. Nothing personal against the Bible itself; I just don’t learn that way.”

This book, they tend to agree, is the place where God is speaking. The one true living God of the Universe reveals what he wants us to know to be complete for every good work in this book called the Bible. In this day and age, when the Scriptures are available in the West at the click of a link or the touch of an iPod, excuses to remain biblically illiterate aren’t just silly — they are sinful.

Imagine I showed you a tent across the yard. You can see a glow emanating from its zippered door. “Inside that tent,” I said, “is God himself. He has something to say to you. You just have to go inside the tent, and the God of the Universe will reveal the mystery of the ages to you.” And then imagine you were to say, “I’m not much of a walker. I prefer sitting to walking.”

Makes about as much sense.

“What great toil and effort it cost the church fathers to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor – with almost no labor at all – can acquire the whole loaf. O how their efforts put our indolence to shame!”
— Martin Luther

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9 thoughts on ““I’m Not Much of a Reader””

  1. Matt Judkins says:

    I don’t know if posting a story from John Wesley will make this site crash or not :-), but I have always loved his comment to the pastors of the early Methodist movement when they used a similar objection,

    “Wesley advised that they should spend their mornings (or at least, five hours out of every day) in study. He anticipated the objection that they might have “no taste for reading,” and to this he replied sharply, “Contract a taste for it by use, or return to your trade” (Works, 8:315).” (h/t Ted A. Campbell)

  2. Sherry says:

    So true! I was that person. I learned to read and yet would rarely crack a book or bother with a magazine article if it seemed very long. I “got saved” in high school and drifted away as soon as I left for college because, you guessed it, I never got into the Bible and read it, let alone studied and tried to live it.

    I went on like that for the next 30 years or so. Until I wandered into literature that was anything but wholesome. About the only thing I had going for myself was that I was developing some reading muscle and stamina. Then one day after an amazing “mountain-top” experience in the land of fiction, I opened a free download of “By Grace Alone” by Sinclair Ferguson, and what unfolded in the days following changed my life.

    As the old saying goes, God can draw straight lines with crooked sticks!

    I guess what I’m getting at is: They’re still blind. They can’t see the glow of the tent and they think we’re just blowing smoke. My path is my constant reminder that God is Sovereign. Don’t give up on the folks that don’t read. Our job is to pray and plead and keep sowing the seed.

  3. Dr. Don says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I am not an audio learner and need to read something for it to sink in. People seem to be content sometimes by just “talking” to God as they drive or carry on their daily business. This notion of receiving from God, through the Word, is seen as good, as something to put on the to-do list but not critical.

  4. nhe says:

    Wow……..great word, especially coupled w/ the Luther quote.

    I’d add that if you say you’re not much of a reader, the Bible is available on mp3, IPod, and CD…… can listen in the car!

    There is truly no excuse. We can drown ourselves in the word of God if we just try a little, and we don’t even have to be a “reader”.

  5. Tara says:

    I’ve never thought about this before, but I love the way you put it about saying you’re not much of a walker. God bless you!

  6. David Denis says:

    Moreover, there are other options to strictly reading the text. In particular there are excellent recordings available. While I think it’s true that the experience of reading text off a page is unique and invaluable. Nevertheless, in these cases I would simply encourage these people to find a way to engage the text that DOES work for them, such as listening to a recording or a sermon.

    Anything that moves us one step closer to the goal is valuable. All or nothing thinking here (insisting that they MUST READ – nothing else will do) will create more of a barrier than is necessary.

    Another option — rather than a book, perhaps a chapter, an article or even a quote or a verse. Sometimes the mere scope of a book is daunting, but a few paragraphs are not. Again, moving closer even a little is key.

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Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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