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Reading for Relationship  

Reading for Relationship  

  • "Reading for Relationship" originally appeared in the June 2024 "Animal" issue of COMO Magazine

What does the Bible offer and how do I read it?  

Like anything written that we encounter, we must decide how to read it. Do we need to study it or browse the headlines? Do we need the details or just the overview? Do we read it as news, as art, or for entertainment? Will the content inform us or transform us?  

The Bible is no different.  

When we engage the scriptures, we read for relationship.  

Before we dive into that, however, we need to understand what the Bible is and why it is worth reading.  

The Bible is a collection of sacred scriptures written by over forty authors on three continents over a span of about five hundred years. It was originally written in three languages — Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and is the best-selling book of all time. It contains two sections — the Old and New Testaments — and sixty-six core books.  

The Bible contains God’s story of creation through the establishment of the early church, and includes the stories of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

In his publication titled Eat this Book, Pastor Eugene Peterson talks about Karl Barth, a young Swiss pastor in 1916 who challenged those in his care to read the Bible differently. Barth believed the Bible was a different kind of writing. It was revelatory and intimate rather than informational and impersonal. And he challenged people to read it differently; to engage it receptively and leisurely.  

So, if the Bible is intimate and Barth encourages us to be receptive to what it is saying, then how do we engage it?  

We read for relationship  

Reading for relationship has been a new concept for me in my adult years. Growing up in church, I was encouraged to learn the Bible stories and to memorize scripture. I was fed the content as information, with little expectation that I would do anything with it. I could tell you the stories of Noah and the ark or Jonah and the whale, but I did not know how their stories could impact my life today.  

Then I was introduced to the contemplatives, to a collection of Christian authors and teachers who were leading people to engage the Bible as a love letter from God. They saw and understood the Bible as one, big love story from the darkness before creation to eternity with God in heaven. As I reread those familiar stories, I began to see myself in the narrative and most importantly, to see God in the story.  

So how can we read the Bible for relationship? These four key words will help — read, pray, think, and live.  


Take your time and read thoughtfully. Choose a passage of scripture that interests you and read it as part of this epic love story. Then read it again. Read it aloud. Need a place to start? Try Psalm 139. Sit with it, absorb it, meditate on it. Eugene Peterson says, “The Bible is given to us in the first place simply to invite us to make ourselves at home in the world of God.”  


Once you have read the passage and reflected on it, notice what God might be saying to you. Is there a particular word or phrase that sticks out to you? Circle it. Don’t worry about finding the “right” answer; simply listen for what God is revealing to you about him, his love, or the world he created.  


Reading the Bible for relationship is as much about listening as it is about speaking. God is yearning to connect with you. Turn the words and phrases he has shown you over in your mind, dialog with him about them. What are you thinking? Feeling? Wondering? How is your body responding to what you are reading? If you have a journal, write your thoughts down.  


If we want to engage the scripture for our transformation rather than information, then after we read, think, and pray, there will come a time to act. What is God saying? What is he asking us to do? To believe? To change? How might he be affirming something in us, bringing us peace, or removing fear? Write this down as well.  

How could our life and walk with God look different if we read the Bible for relationship?  

I think we will find a Friend in those pages who loves us, delights in us, and is excited to spend time with us. 

Beth Bramstedt is the Church Life Pastor at Christian Fellowship. 

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