Knowing God Together
Joshua shares with us his experience of reading a good Christian book with the youth, and how it is a way we can do spiritual good to one another.
When I was a teenager, I strongly believed that the Bible was the only book worth reading. I thought that if God’s word is clear and sufficient then I don't need to read anything else. Although there is some truth to this, I soon realised that reading the Bible was a struggle because of this mindset.
When I met with my peers to read with them, the only book we read together was the Bible. Gradually we would begin to lose motivation for reading the Bible because we would regularly find passages in the Bible that were difficult to understand and found difficult to apply to our lives.
One day when I explained my struggles with an older church member, he encouraged me that it is okay to read books other than the Bible. Good Christian books can give useful insights about God and give guidance on how to read the Bible properly and how it applies to our lives. My peers and I were fooling ourselves because we thought we could understand all the Bible for ourselves in a vacuum. This is one of the reasons why God gives the church teachers: to help us understand difficult parts of God’s word (Eph 4:11).
I’m not saying we should completely substitute reading the Bible with Christians books, but reading a good Christian book together with another brother or sister can be a great supplement to reading the Bible. Just last month I experienced the blessing of reading a Christian book with a few of my youth.
Over the June holidays, a group of five youth boys and I read through J.I Packer’s classic book, "Knowing God". We would meet once a week for three weeks to have lunch, catch up about our week and discuss chapters in the book.
For youth boys, I knew they needed some structure and guidance so I had assigned them to read a few chapters before we met. I also had them write down their thoughts about what they read from each chapter. We would then discuss what they wrote down during our meetings.
Overall it was great spending time getting to know these boys on a deeper level and talking about how amazing God is. We discussed what it means to know God, His character, and what it means for us.
And even though I was leading these boys to read and facilitating discussions, reading through this book with the youth was amazingly enriching for me as well. Rereading this book helped me appreciate the amazing riches of the Gospel and reminded me of the marvellous character of God. Additionally, the answers the boys gave me were insightful and I was encouraged to see God slowly work in the lives of these boys. In many ways I felt like I benefited just as much (if not more) from reading with these youth boys.
Just spending time together with another person and reading a book will be enriching to all involved and I highly recommend members of the church do the same.
You don’t have to be super structured like how I was with my youth. When you meet with someone you could simply read a book out loud without any previous preparation. After reading a section or a chapter, stop and ask what stood out, then ask how it might apply to our lives.
Don’t worry about preparing, don’t worry about being awkward, don’t worry about finding the perfect person to read with, just get started with any church member. Experience for yourself the blessing of reading with another person, it is a great way of doing spiritual good and it will be beneficial for everyone involved.
If you’re not sure what to read with someone, the church book store is a good place to start. These books have been curated and have sound theology and are quite practical. Go check out the bookstore for yourself and try taking steps towards asking someone to read a book with you this week.
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