Like 2020 and 2021, the year of our Lord 2022 gifted the Christian world with a lot of false dichotomies and general dumbness. I thought it was all wrung out and all I had to do was gaze out my kitchen window at the gray landscape, yell four more times at a child for not picking up his vile shoes off the floor, fold seven more loads of laundry, and then fall into a gentle and dreamless sleep. But the year isn’t over yet! As one last lovely prize, Twitter delivered up to me as of first importance in the wee hours an epic tweet thread such as my soul loves that is just the sort of thing we have come to expect. We are going to go through all seven tweets. But this, as you can see, is the most important one:
Ah yes, the reasonable person to come alongside you in your fevered dream of over-consumptive disappointment. You’re feeling guilty. You didn’t do anything you planned in 2022, but a new day is just around the corner and you’ll be able to try again. First, on your list of personal growth failures, You Didn’t Read The Bible except for a few times in church, when you managed to go. Well, Dr. Paul is here to remind you that, you know what, you probably shouldn’t bother in the Forthcoming because you won’t be able to do it in 2023 either. Don’t even make a resolution. Don’t even try.
Why not? Because the Bible is just plumb too hard to read. Look how thick it is. Have you ever read a book that thick? It is also full of a lot of names of places and people you can’t pronounce. You will get very bored. It will be irrelevant to you. And also, there will be a lot of difficult passages of poetry and you don’t even like poetry. Also, there are some disturbing narrative accounts of people–actual people made in the image of God TM–behaving themselves very badly. You may not be able to deal with how bad people come out looking. You’re not bad, and thinking about bad people will probably upset you.
Also, you know what, God is too big to be confined to something like human language. When you read the Bible, you will totally get confused and not know who he is. Here’s a better idea. Take the time you would have spent reading your Bible (which, Remember! you can’t do, It’s Too Hard For You and you can’t do hard things–I mean, Glennon Doyle says you can do some hard things, but not this kind of hard thing)–and instead “use that time to practice your faith.” I know, it would have been helpful to read the book that literally has a lot to say about how to “practice your faith.” You can’t practice reading the Bible to get better at reading it, but you can just sort of launch yourself out there and “practice your faith.” The most important word in that phrase is “your.” Spend some of the time you would have spent reading the Bible thinking about what kind of faith you’d like to have and how you’d like to practice it. Dr. Paul has some suggestions.
You can 1. Serve the Marginalized. 2. Defend the Oppressed. 3. Fight Injustice. 4. Meet your Neighbors. 5. Be the Good Samaritan. and 6. Micah 6:8.
Remember, you do not have time to read the Bible because it is very hard and you will be tired and unable to for some reason. Not reading it will give you a lot of time to do these other things which are not hard at all. In fact, you probably wake up in the morning ready to fight injustice And meet your neighbors. Your neighbors literally never come out of their house, except to move their cats from their warm living room to their weird heated shed they have in the freezing garden, and they never make eye contact with you, but you should, on your way to serving the marginalized, totally go beat down their door and get to know them. You don’t need to read the Bible because you already know a lot of important things, like who the marginalized are, and how to “defend the oppressed.” That’s not some kind of epic thing that you can’t just do on your way through to the Target Starbucks. Remember, only good people shop at Target. That’s the holy place to shop. Don’t go to Walmart. They don’t even have expensive coffee there and the packaging is obviously wicked. Go to Target and literally be the Good Samaritan.
I mean, for much of church history, most people have known that Jesus is the Good Samaritan, which is something you can learn about if you read the Bible–he rescued you when you were cast down in the Wegman’s aisle, trying to choose between spelt flour and oat milk, out of your trespasses and sins, because you finally had enough of yourself and cried out for mercy, but Micah 6:8.
Wait, what? Is that a Bible Verse? Can I just read that by itself off the screen? Phew. I do not want to read the whole text to find out what any of the verses mean in context. That, as we have seen, is Too Hard.
Right, right. I know most books make sense when you start on the first page, but Not The Bible. If you start on the first page you will not be swept in one of the most astonishing revelations of the nature of God and how he brought the world and the human creature whom he literally makes in his own image TM and then something terrible happens right on the second page (depending on how small the print is) that makes you long to know what happens next. I know it’s the perfect story arch on which all other story arches turn, but in this case, it won’t interest you at all. And it won’t help you understand all the other parts. Skip around to the short bits. You’re not smart enough to read and understand the Law or the Prophets. Other people could, for thousands of years, but not you because you have shopping to do, and also a phone, and that phone call is not going to return itself. Don’t do important things first. Everyone knows that’s impossible.
The Word of God is not more necessary than Bread–as Jesus never pointed out in a part of the Bible you will never get to because it’s way deep in the middle of the book. Don’t bite down on the strange nourishment that God gives. Don’t devour it like you’re starving and dying. Flit and sip. Just a little here and there. A few verses a day. That’s all you need. Also, definitely make sure you go to a church where you will only hear like one verse a week, and then there will be a lot of announcements, a skit, and Reckless Love. Hearing whole chapters at a time will not help you. Soothe your guilt about your sins by driving through Wendys.
Yes Yes Yes. Absolutely Reward Yourself For Reading Three Verses Of The Bible One Time By Skipping Church On A Sunday. God does not come to meet his people in a special way during the Diving Liturgy. He doesn’t rip open the curtain between earth and heaven and come to feed his own people with himself–both his word and his body. He doesn’t nit the community of his faithful people together in himself, soothing your hurts, healing your wounds, cutting away sin, binding you together with people who could walk through this perilous land of Unlikeness filled with beasts and troubles towards a glorious heavenly City. That doesn’t happen. Ever. Treat yourself. In fact, have some cotton candy and a big glass of wine and take a walk toward that carnival down there in that valley. “Practice your Faith” on that gentle slope. I know it’s getting hotter and hotter, but don’t worry, Micah 6:8.