I taught someone how to read the bible yesterday.
“Open your bibles to…” That was all I had to say for one girl to feel left out, for her to feel deficient somehow. Its funny how a few short words that I say so often and take for granted opened my eyes to what I always knew but often forget.
“I don’t really know how to read the bible,” she said with a nervous laugh. And so I flipped to the front of my bible to the table of contents and began to teach her what now come naturally to me. So many thoughts rushed into my head. “What do I say first? Ok. Tell her to look for 1 Timothy. Wait. Don’t start there or she’ll be looking forever for it. New Testament. Why didn’t I notice this last week? Wow, I’m really messing this up.”
I walk around so often taking simple things like knowing how to navigate the bible for granted. I go to a school that teaches me how to read, interpret, synthesize, and teach the holy book. In my mind, in the middle of my Christian bubble, I thought, ever so foolishly, that everyone knew. I thought if I preach the gospel and hand over a bible that would be enough. But its not.
I cannot imagine how daunting the bible must seem to those who have never turned its pages. There are so many rumors circling this book about who God is, how he acts, and what he wants. I can’t imagine opening the bible being a completely new believer with no sort of cultural clues to Christianity. Its intimidating to try and learn on your own. In order to get from knowing nothing to understanding you have to be taught. And thats where you and I come in. We take the time to know the new and confused and we teach them how to read and understand. We teach them how to pray and to pray always. We teach them to be open about their struggles. We set the example of a life of service. God uses us to reach that person. That’s discipleship. It means taking the time to teach someone from the very basics. What good is it to know everything there is to know about God and keep it to yourself?
By the end of our devotional, the girl who came in outspoken but shy about her knowledge of the gospel, volunteered to close in prayer. “I’ll pray but I don’t really know how to start.”
“Speak as If you’re talking to a friend. I usually start with hello.” With a little coaching she closed our time with two sentences and that was more than enough.