I have been reading the Bible (New Living Translation) since 8/13/10, and started a 52 week reading plan for the four gospels on 8/30/10. I actually finished the reading plan early. I had some conflict as to whether I should read the Old or the New Testament first. I felt that I needed the background of the Old, but I had a strong desire to read the New, so I compromised. I’ll read a book in the Old and when I’m finished I’ll read a book in the New. So, as I write this I just finished Romans and am about to start 1 & 2 Samuel.
When I started reading the Bible I felt awkward. I took it to work to read, but I hid it. Whenever someone saw me reading it they would usually say something like “Is that a Bible?” or “I know that’s not a Bible YOU are reading!” I would play it off saying “Yeah, this is a Bible” giving a truthful answer but saying it in a sarcastic tone so they would think I was being facetious. Then I read the story of Noah. What spoke to me most was: “Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.” Gen 6:9. If Noah was the only righteous man then he was different from anyone else. He didn’t succumb to peer pressure and he wasn’t afraid to be who he was. So why should I be ashamed that I was reading the Bible and developing faith in YHWH? So I started answering people truthfully (in word and tone) when they asked what I was reading.
There were a couple of verses in Romans that really spoke to me:
“So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” ROM 14:10
“You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.” ROM 14:22
These two verses helped change my perspective on the people who I use to call the “Crazy Christians”. If they feel they are right in their worship who am I to judge. But it can go the other way too; who are they to judge how I believe?
I once thought everything could be rationalized, probably even murder if the person was bad enough. I was proud of my skill to rationalize petty theft of a box of gloves from work, or shaking that unpaid for candy bar loose from the vending machine.
“But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”ROM 14:22
While this verse specifically speaks about dietary habits I think it can apply to everything. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. I know when I’m doing something wrong. If I have to check to see if anyone is looking it’s probably wrong. If I have to spend time trying to rationalize out a way to make it okay, I should have probably have gone with my first instincts.
For me reading the bible hasn’t been about finding a strict doctrine to follow, it’s been about finding the right path for me. It’s been about finding faith and wanting to better myself.
“So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.” ROM 3:21
“Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” ROM 3:31
And by wanting to better myself through God I have opened myself up to the Holy Spirit and changed the way I think.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” ROM 8:5
And that is why I feel like I am becoming a better person! Malicious thoughts are leaving my mind and I am no longer dwelling on them.