Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Enjoying the Bible Part 1: The Books We Like

Have you ever asked someone what their favorite verse in the Bible is? If they are a Christian, this is usually a tough question. Most people I've asked find it difficult to choose just one. "Um, let me think about it . . ." they say awkwardly. But if you ask someone what their favorite books are in the Bible (and what makes them special), many people seem to relish the inquiry. I love hearing about why a person likes certain books - they are not just sharing their opinion but their heart and uniqueness as well.

For myself, if I was stuck on a desert island (although for me "stuck" should probably be replaced by "blessed") with only a few books of the Bible to keep me company, I would probably choose Proverbs, James, Ecclesiastes, and Matthew. I like other books of the Bible, but these are the ones that I am drawn to the most. James was the first book of the Bible that I ever had a real emotional experience with. I remember reading James alone in my room one night during my first summer away from Briercrest. The challenge to honor God with my actions hit me so hard that I literally wept. I hardly ever get bored with James. His "just do it!" attitude resonates with my desires and weaknesses in such a way that I approach the book with both anticipation and fear every time I open it up.

Proverbs and Ecclessiastes are books that whenever I read them I am always learning something new. Unlike other books, the truth in wisdom literature is situational - proverbs are not true in every situation - the context and timing matter (this is why some Proverbs appear to contradict each other). This makes them even more intriguing to me! The wisdom literature is so practical and cuts through my apathy and excuses like a knife. Some day I want to be a wise like the sages of Israel, sitting on a hill learning and dispensing wisdom to others.

And then there's Matthew. I first really read the book of Matthew in my Gospels class at Briercrest. I had the most amazing teacher, Carl Hinderager, who was in my opinion the wisest and Spirit-sensitive teacher at the school. We went through that book verse by verse and savoured and reflected upon each one. The story of Jesus came alive to me that semester, and I met Jesus in a whole new way. Coincidentally I was going through a bit of faith crisis at the time (doubting the deity of Christ) and Carl's thoughtful exploration of the book helped me to resolve my doubts during a particularly difficult time.

So here's a question for you Christ-followers out there: what are you favorite book(s) of the Bible? Why do you like them? Or do none of them "turn your crank" (honesty please)? Come on lurkers, time to come out of the closet!

May light increase!


Jay Boaz said...

I have fond memories of Deuteronamy myself. I've never seen a cabin get sent in last for a meal after reciting a verse from the Bible before...


I find I like Genesis because it feels familiar; I remember learning things from it back in Christian Ed in school, even though I didn't really know it was in the book of Genesis at the time. I can recall enjoying reading Ecclesiasties (spelling?) as well.


Stacey said...

Well I could elaborate forever about various passages throughout the Bible that speak to me but that would be a long post. As for favorite Books as a whole... Hmm... I do like Genesis because how can you dispute the existence of God after reading it. I also like Proverbs for the wisdom and Psalms is the book I go to that speaks to me most in good times and bad. Numbers bores me a little and is always hard to get through that one, for me. Revelations both fascinates me and frightens me. And because I love poetic words and am just really a sappy romantic at heart, Song of Solomon is just so beautiful.

Michele said...

I love Revelations and Acts. I love reading about the apostle Paul because he's so "human" but so on fire for God at the same time. He made mistakes and fell sometimes but still tried his best to do what God wanted him to. I can appreciate that.

Mark said...

Yes, Song of Solomon, I had forgotten about that one! Probably not on my "absolute" favorite list, but very close.

Elayne said...

OK, I'll try this again! I tried leaving a comment and it didn't work. Now I have to remember what I wrote!

I can HONESTLY say that I do not have a favourite book of the BIble. I have lots of favourite passages and verses that have been especially meaningful in my life but I can't say that there is one particular book that I like best of all.

Lee said...

I don't know that I have a favorite. I do really enjoy Psalms and Proverbs in the OT and James in the NT. There are a ton of passages/stories that I love throughout the whole Bible so I find it hard to select a favorite as a whole.

I'm not a big fan of the prophets. I always find myself getting lost - are they referring to times (now) past, or the end times coming up....sometimes I feel like I'm on track and other times I feel like I can't make heads or tails of it. Oh, and to be honest - not a big fan of Song of solomon. All the fruit and gazelle just doesn't do it for me.