Generally when reading the bible, you do so in small chunks – maybe a chapter at a time, maybe in even shorter passages. This helps you to focus on the small picture; the details; and see what particular phrases mean. To get a bigger picture, though, it can be helpful to read larger sections. As part of college study this year, I’ve been reading the gospels – sometimes in one sitting, I’ll read an entire gospel: 16, 21, 24, or 28 chapters in one hit.
Not wanting to do merely one thing at a time, I read a couple of these gospels while at the gym. I think I read Matthew on a treadmill (walking pace), and Luke on an exercise bike.
Each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) was written by a different author. Each – in case you’ve never read one – has some kind of introduction, perhaps with some genealogies, perhaps not, some descriptions of Jesus’ miracles interspersed with records of Jesus’ teachings. Each gospel ends with the narration of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial(s), crucifixion and resurrection.
What impact does an exercise bike have on reading a gospel? When you’re getting your heart-rate up, and you’re not allowing yourself to stop until the reading task is completed, and you’re sitting on an uncomfortable exercise bike seat – you’re not trying to analyse anything; you’re not trying to read too closely. You’re just waiting for the gospel to end.
Now when you’re reading something all the way through in one sitting, it defeats the purpose to just flick to the end and say "Ok. I’ll get off the bike now". You have to keep reading; heading towards the finish line. I already know that the gospel is going to conclude with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and I really want to get off the exercise bike. What’s the inevitable result?
I find myself barracking for Jesus to be crucified.
I want to skip through the latter half of Jesus’ teaching; the parables; and just go straight to the end.
It occurs to me that this is not a good thing for a Christian to be thinking. To be overwhelmed with the injustice of the cross is okay, to be grateful for the offer of forgiveness that goes with it, yes, but to be chanting "Get on with it" seems somehow to be a wrong response, but one that I’ve brought on by trying to be too busy.
It makes me wonder: what is the high price that I’m paying for all of this busy-ness? In my haste to keep occupied with something all the time, am I missing out on things of more value? How important is being busy to you?