CLC not only challenges you to read the Bible on your own every day but also includes a curriculum with a lot of required Bible reading. Sometimes, I found it easy to understand and apply a required passage. At other times, a required passage would be confusing or wouldn’t seem very applicable to my life.
If I had been on my own, then I would have gotten very little value from passages that were confusing or seemed irrelevant. But I wasn’t alone. Every week, I sat down with other men and discussed the passages. By hearing their interpretations of passages and life stories related to passages, I found meaning, wisdom, and application in all of the passages that we had read. And sometimes my insights helped others gain understanding and appreciation.
Obviously, one person can’t provide the diversity of thought that a dozen can; but having regular conversations with someone who is reading the same Bible passages as you is sure to give you insights and benefits that you can’t get on your own.
Let’s suppose that you want to lose some weight and get in better shape. You can’t afford a gym membership, so you decide to exercise on your own every day. When the weather is decent, you will jog or run for at least 30 minutes outside. When the weather is lousy, you will do some other aerobic activity, probably at home.
With which of the following approaches are you most likely to succeed in doing aerobic exercise every day?
Just do it, all by yourself.
Tell a friend what you plan to do and ask that friend to check in on you every now and then.
Find a friend who is willing to do the same workout as you every day and commits to comparing notes with you at least a few times each week.
Do the workout every day with a friend.
Clearly, your best chance of success is with the last approach. For most people, however, it’s just not feasible…unless the friend is your spouse. But you’re almost as likely to succeed with the third approach, even if your friend lives in another state. The key is commitment.
When two friends are committed to the same goal, they are likely to hold each other accountable, because each wants the other to succeed.
Before you take on the challenge of reading your Bible every day, find a friend who is willing to take on the same challenge with the same approach. Communicate with that friend at least a few times a week. You’ll each benefit from the discussions (as discussed above), and you’ll help each other to stay on track.
3. Support and Encouragement
In life, as in sports, a good teammate cares about more than just accomplishing a goal. A good teammate cares about, and wants the best for, each member of the team.
When we started our two-year journey, my CLC teammates and I were focused on the curriculum. It gave us a lot of work to do. Every week, each of us had to 4-8 hours preparing for our Friday meetings. At those two-hour meetings, we’d spend most of our time going over our “homework”: Bible passages, additional book chapters, questions for application, and so on. We’d save a little time at the end for prayer requests.
As we got to know each other better, the prayer request time started getting longer. And longer. Rather than just asking for prayer, guys would share what was going on in their lives. Because we kept running out of time to hear everyone, we changed our meeting format to do prayer requests (and sharing) before we got into the curriculum. Eventually, it was about 50/50: an hour of getting into guys’ lives, and an hour of discussions on the Bible.
I learned a valuable lesson in my two years of CLC: We read the Bible not to check an item off a list but to have our lives changed.
You don’t have to have a Bible reading partner to have your life transformed by the Bible. But when you have a partner, you’ll find that the pace of transformation accelerates, thanks to the support and encouragement that you receive and that you exhibit.
4. It’s Biblical!
In the western world, and especially in the U.S., we prize independence. This independent spirit often carries over to our spiritual lives. “Just give me Jesus,” we say. “That’s all I need.” As long as we have Jesus, we can take on the world, all by ourselves.
Contrast that viewpoint with these Scripture passages:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. – Matthew 18:20 (ESV)
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two… – Mark 6:7a (ESV)
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. – Luke 10:1 (ESV)
Jesus is sufficient for each of us, but Jesus does not want us to do everything on our own. When you’re reading your Bible, two are better than one.
Chris Bolinger is the author of Daily Strength for Men, a 365-day daily devotional from BroadStreet Publishing that is a great tool for getting into the Bible every day. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, DailyStrengthForMen.com, and other retailers.