Reading Scripture, Missing God

Read: John 5:39-47
You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (v.39).

Some years ago, I had a sobering epiphany regarding my faith. After a decade of ministry, I realized that I didn’t really know God very well. Yes, I knew there was a God and that He was good and holy. I knew that Jesus had died for my sins. But did I really know God’s character well? His personality? Not very deeply.

The reason? The Bible. Or, more precisely, my approach to the Bible.

In my early ministry days I read the Bible for its leadership tips. As a young youth pastor, I was in way over my head and desperately needed direction in how to lead well. Later, as I started to preach more, I read the Bible looking for Christian living tips so I could give how-to talks about living a godly life and praying well. There was nothing essentially wrong with this, aside from one thing: In my pragmatic pursuit of biblical wisdom, I got some tips but missed out on God.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had a similar problem. They read Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:1—imploring them to live by God’s principles—as practical steps on how to gain eternal life. But such principles became more important than God himself. Even though they religiously studied the Scriptures, they didn’t have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:39,42). They were so consumed with following the Law, which pointed to God, that they didn’t recognize Him (John 5:39,45-46). Their problem wasn’t too little Bible study. It was missing the God revealed in the Scriptures.

We can do the same today. I did. We can use the Bible as a self-help manual instead of a guide to knowing God. Finding wise tips in God’s Word can be helpful, but they mean little without Him.


What are you looking for when you read and study God’s Word? How can you avoid making the mistake I made?

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”