Let’s face it. We all binge-watch shows on Netflix. There’s much to say about the topic of binge-watching, but this isn’t the blog for that. I just want to make one observation about binge-watching shows: the binge-watcher is able to follow the storyline of the show very closely. That makes sense right? If you’re binge-watching a crime show, you’re able to closely follow the plot, the developments, pick up on clues, put together evidence, and make better conclusions about who did the crime because you just watched a whole season of the show in one day.
Let’s bring this even closer to home for myself and others who love the show The Office. Let’s say that instead of binge-watching this show (which is so easy to do because the episodes are only 20 min., it’s awesome, and hilarious, and Jim and Pam)…so instead of binge-watching you just watch random episodes. **Spoiler Alert!!** So, if you randomly start watching The Office at say Season 3 Episode 25 which is “The Job” and it happens to be the episode where Jim finally asks out Pam and Pam finally says yes…you have no background for their relationship. You have missed out on arguably the most important plot development of the show. Next, let’s say after watching this one episode you skip ahead to Season 6 Episode 5 when Jim and Pam get married. Again, you’re completely missing out on the development of their relationship, their first kiss, their struggles, the proposal, etc. (not to mention all of the other character development and storylines). You have basically ruined a fantastic T.V. show. Now, to all of you reading this blog (and myself writing it), this is ridiculous! No one does that. No one watches random episodes with hopes to understand the plot of the story. That’s just not how you watch a show. So…why do we read the Bible that way? Why do we read the Gospels that way or Paul’s letters that way?
Now don’t take my metaphor as sacrilege. Obviously, the Bible, God’s inspired Word, is different than The Office. BUT, they both tell a story. I’m not saying that we must only read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (though it would be extremely beneficial), but there’s a few things we do need to realize (1) the Bible is a story (2) large chunks of the Bible are narrative and (3) as a reader you have to know what part of the story you’re in. So, instead of reading a verse here or a verse there set aside some time to binge-read the Bible! You’ll be amazed at what you’ll begin to see and what you’ll piece together when you do this.
Maybe start with the Gospel of Mark (it’s short). Or start with one of Paul’s shorter letters. You can start out slow! Don’t even read all of it in one sitting; read half one day and half the next. The connections you’ll make will astound you. The Gospel writers each wrote a story about Jesus, so it’s meant to be read that way! The writers of Epistles (letters) wrote them from beginning to end, so it’s meant to be read that way! Plus, even though epistles aren’t narrative literature, these authors are consistently commenting on the Biblical story, so we need to know it.
The Spirit can absolutely encourage and teach you when you are reading random verses (happens to me all the time)…but, that’s not how the Spirit inspired the Biblical authors to write. The Biblical authors wrote songs, stories, letters, laments, and prophetic books that are meant to be read from beginning to end. Just like a T.V. show. So my challenge to you is to try it out! Binge-read the Bible a couple of times and see how the Spirit teaches you. I pray you will be greatly encouraged and that Christ will be exalted!