So, this unchurched guy comes in my office and tells me that he has started reading the Bible. I’m excited but I almost know what he’s going to say next.
I pause and wait for him to articulate what I know is coming…
The silence is broken. And my assumption is correct. He has chosen to begin his study in Revelations. (It is of course mandatory that you call it Revelations instead of Revelation when you pick this as your first book).
And I sit and wonder why anyone would begin with arguably the most difficult book in the entire canon of Scripture to begin his study. I assume Hollywood, coupled with our fixation on the world blowing up, is largely to blame. Yet I wonder if there isn’t another, not so obvious reason, why folks choose difficult Old Testament passages or Revelation to begin their study. Perhaps a hidden Jesus is safer and more attractive.
Deal With Jesus Directly
So, I counseled this confused looking fella as I normally do. I told him to stop his reading in Revelation and take up the Gospel of Mark. That probably sounds like I’m saying that Mark is better than Revelation and that I’m encouraging people to be red-letter Christians only. Not the case.
Let’s be honest and confess that this dude is doing everything backwards anyways. It shouldn’t just be him and Jesus alone in a room with an open Bible. He needs the church. He needs to study God’s Word alongside of God’s people. That’s ideal.
But he’s likely to insist on continuing as a lone ranger; and this largely because He hasn’t yet been reconciled to God and henceforth other believers. So if he must study the Bible on his own I want him to deal with Jesus directly. Not through shadows. Not through allegory. Just the bare Jesus of the Gospels.
Let him deal with Christ and be haunted by the Nazarene. Let him figure out how Mary’s son can calm a raging sea with the word of His mouth. Cause him to be confronted with the screams of the crowd saying, “Crucify him”. And leave him with the centurion’s confession, “Truly this man was the Son of God”.
He must be confronted and transformed by this Jesus. Then maybe he’ll get his tail in church and gather with other believers where we can start working through the Old Testament and Revelation.