OK, this reflection is half-baked, and draws on various threads that are running through my mind. But here we go. Oh, and sorry if it sounds a bit cross... It'll be the burnout coming through, added to the fact that sometimes our folly does make me feel somewhat cross.
1) For years at New Year I have advocated starting one of the plans for reading through the Bible in one year.
2) At the same time it is clear that in a world where many Christians are illiterate and many more don't have a printed Bible in their own language, daily Bible reading is not of the essence of the Christian life. You can be a Christian, grow as a Christian without it.
3) The Christian life is more solitary than ever before in our big cities. People suggest various things as "the answer" : accountability groups, small groups, home groups, growth groups, all kinds of groups. Groups are great, and I have no doubt that they are part of the answer.
4) We exacerbate this solitary tendency with our emphases on the quiet time alone with God as the power house of the Christian life AND our culture of celebrity pastors on the internet, followed, watched, consumed alone.
Francis Schaeffer said the world at the end of the 20th century needs to see real community. We have responded with blogging tribes of competing celebrity pastors, Facebook groups, live-streaming (free of charge!) conferences, and end of year appeal letters to pay for it all.
5) God's plan looks different, is designed to set the lonely in families and to apply across all situations, even those without internet access, smartphones or cheap printed Bibles.
Ephesians 4 : 11 - 16
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
His plan is for Christians to belong to their local group of Christians, their church, with pastors and teachers (and some would say apostles, prophets and evangelists, too) pastoring and teaching (etc.) so that everyone grows together.
So this year I am suggesting that you take as your reading for the week the passage(s) preached in your church the previous Sunday. Read, remember, reflect, pray, apply, discuss if you can, aim to grow from the preached word. If you are lucky enough to belong to a church where the Bible is preached systematically then you'll get to know some Bible books really well !
Until Easter I'll still be visiting different churches in Bordeaux. Humph... So till Easter I'll apply myself to repeated reading of books of the Bible. First Philippians, then Ruth, then Ephesians, then Nehemiah.