I love watching tennis. A few weeks ago there was a tournament held in California and now there is one in Florida. The weather is beautiful in both places, but it's much more humid in Florida which makes the players sweat that much more.
Tennis is one of the most beautiful sport I've ever watched. There can be thousands in the bleachers that surround the two players but during the match a pin drop could be heard. On the court, there are about a dozen people who either judge the match or catch the stray balls and supply the players with new ones. The people on the court stand like statues during play and then move like clockwork when there is a pause in the match. The tennis players are truly athletes. Their servings can get the ball up to 139 miles per hour. Imagine that yellow ball moving 139 miles per hour and running in its direction in order to send it right back where it came from. Incredible!
There are many other aspects of tennis that are both beautiful and impressive, but I must confess; I don't have any idea what the rules are. I think "love" relates to the tennis score and know that the ball can't be outside certain lines, but beyond that I'm clueless.
I was halfway watching the California tennis matches as I was preparing a bible study lesson when I had a rather strange thought; it's possible to read the Bible in the same way I was watching tennis. I could read the Bible from an the audiences' point of view, just as I watching tennis.
It would be easy to read the Bible and recognize its masterful poetry or its rich history. There are stories of great men and women and with an expert's touch the Author weaves their stories right before you. The Bible is full of wisdom and advice on how to live a good life. Spending time in any of those areas would make anyone a better person.
As honorable of a pursuit as that may be, something could still be missed. Hitting that rubber ball over the net and away from the opponents tennis racket is probably much harder that it looks from the audiences' seats. Everything changes once the audience becomes a player. The rules and challenges are for the players, not the audience. And it's in that same way that a person could read the Bible. After becoming a child of God, the world is no longer for that person but at the same time the child of God has to battle and fight his own desires. Reading about the failures and successes of former Saints is not merely for the enjoyment of the audience, instead it was written for the players. The players are those who have submitted to God and recognize that it's only through Jesus does anyone become a player in God's story. Once a person becomes a player in God's story, reading the Bible just isn't the same.
So please, don't read the Bible like I watch tennis - from the audiences' point of view. Instead join me and my brothers and sisters as we are all players on God's team.