Bonus Points / by Jeffrey Waters

Yesterday during my first class of the semester we did the classic icebreaker where everybody goes around the room and introduces themselves. I’m sure everybody is familiar with it. Everybody tries to figure out some way to introduce themselves to seem interesting but not too weird. It’s embarrassing and never not awkward. In this particular voyage of discovery we had to share our favorite book. In an attempt to display my (perceived) deep persona I said Catch 22. The very next girl answered by saying the Bible. My first thought was immediately, “Duh! I should have said the Bible was my favorite book too!”

But wait. Would it have been fair of me to claim that I love the Bible? I mean I definitely recognize that it’s our guidebook to this crazy adventure called life. I know that it’s one of our most trustworthy methods of getting to know this God guy we try to live for. And I definitely try to give off the impression that its teachings guide my life in a meaningful and genuine way. Looking like I know my stuff makes me feel like I know my stuff. And feeling like I know my stuff makes it okay to not spend quality time getting into the Word.

In the last few months especially, I’ve done a horrible job of making scripture a priority. I make excuses for ignoring the Bible. Here’s as good of an explanation as I can come up with. Have you ever taken a math test that you felt really good about? Maybe you didn’t even study that much, you just showed up and remembered enough to scrape together a B. At the end of the test there’s a bonus question that has the potential to push you up to an A. It’s not a particularly hard question but it’ll mean this test requires just 10 more minutes of your time. And maybe you’re tired and sick of math and just want to be done, so you settle for the B and call it a day.

That’s basically the way I’ve been treating the Bible lately. I act like reading it every day only counts for “bonus points.” Sure it’s a good idea, and there’s really no reason not to, other than pure lack of motivation. But aren’t I already doing enough in my spiritual journey? I get loud for Jesus on Wednesday nights. I listen to Free’s message and occasionally even take some time to contemplate how it relates to my life. I even pray. Because that brief time to talk to God and ask for things is such an enormous gift of my time to Him.

Here’s the harsh truth that may or may not make you uncomfortable: reading the Bible isn’t just extra credit. You can never be doing “enough” in your faith journey to skip one of its fundamental aspects. You can’t just get to know this living God of ours without being familiar with the story of what he’s done, and continuing to do on Earth. It’s something that we Christians claim is the very basis for why we live.

Here’s what I believe about scripture. It’s not a set of stories with morals that we learn and then begin to implement in our lives. It’s one complex story written by many different authors with the same purpose: letting God reveal himself to people in all ages. It’s not something you learn once, it’s something you keep learning the more you delve into it. God continually reveals himself to you in new ways the more you open that book and let his word into your heart.

Here’s another thing I believe: we don’t do it enough. A chapter or two of the Bible isn’t exactly an enormous time commitment. To read a short chapter of the Bible and spend some time chewing on it shouldn’t take much more than fifteen minutes. Can we really not make time for that? Do you need those fifteen minutes of video games or Facebook? At worst, you can spare fifteen minutes of sleep. I know that sleep is something of a luxury item in college, but we’re talking about the Creator of the universe here. Maybe you could pull your Bible out while waiting for class to start. Somebody might take notice and start asking you questions, and maybe that person might not have ever had an interaction like that with a Christian before. Obviously it’s possible that doing this may weird somebody out. But I think weirdness should be embraced. After all, my biggest hero was a guy who weirded people out so much they nailed him to a cross.

Over all, I just really want to encourage people to get in the Word every day. There’s never been an instance of me reading the Bible and regretting it. Get with a community who you can share scripture with and who will hold you accountable. Because it’s not just for bonus points, it’s for the strength of your relationship with the savior of your life.

-  Tucker Flottman